Athletes Who Did It for the Money

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2013

While I don't ever want to assume anything—and my ex-girlfriends would be quick to point out I have a habit of doing so—there are some things in sports that are a little bit fishy.

Like why the Brooklyn Nets ever hired Jason Kidd as their head coach? When athletes will stop posting dumb stuff on Twitter that gets them in trouble? Or, most recently, what the refs of the Carolina Panthers-New England Patriots game were thinking when they decided to pick up that flag at the end of the game on Monday night?

While I may never be able to answer these difficult questions, I think it's safe to say some athletes simply play a sport for the money—dammit, there's that assumption problem I've got.

Us fans want to think guys play for the "love of the game," and the chance to win a title, but let's face it, some dudes just scoop in, get paid and literally laugh all the way to the bank.

Who are the biggest culprits? Keep reading and then vote who you think should top the list.


Soon to Join: Robinson Cano

Yeah, so about that assumption thing again, New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano—and his agents Jay Z and Brodie Van Wagenen—has given hints he's looking for a deal in the $300 million range during the current offseason.

I understand Cano is a five-time All-Star and a rare talent of power, speed and defense—especially for a middle infielder—but at nearly $30 million a year, Robby better hit at least 300 homers over the next 10 seasons, along with delivering a World Series or two.

This is a blatant attempt for a player upping the entire free agent market, and, should some organization be foolish enough to pay him his asking price, will have admitted that it's not about staying with a team that has missed the playoffs just twice in the past 19 years, but showing him the money was the way to his heart.


Gilbert Arenas

Want to know something ridiculous?

Former All-Star Gilbert Arenas—who hasn't played in an NBA game since the 2011-12 season for just 17 games—is still the 56th highest-paid athlete on the planet.

How is this possible?

Simple, he scored an insane six-year, $111 million deal from his former Washington Wizards team in 2008, and has basically been banking on that ever since, spending it in some pretty insane ways.

Just in case he didn't think getting a paycheck for $43 million the past two years from his former team was enough, Arenas went over to play for China's Shanghai Sharks to get a little extra dough—not that he needs it.

He recently announced he's not only done trying to get back in the NBA, but he may just retire from the sport for good.

Must be nice not having to work for your paycheck, Gilbert.


Josh Hamilton

Can anyone really blame Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Josh Hamilton for taking the most money he could last offseason?

After earning league MVP honors with his former team, the Texas Rangers, in 2010, J-Ham followed it up with with two straight All-Star appearances in 2011 and 2012.

So while one can say Hamilton sold out by taking the biggest offer on the table—he signed with L.A. for five years at $125 million—seeing how he was 31 when he signed it, he did what any soon-to-be aging slugger would do.

It was his reaction to leaving Arlington that caused the biggest stir, as he knocked the fans and continuously played the role of instigator in each appearance back in Texas the entire season—just adding salt to their wounds of him leaving for more money.


Allen Iverson

Given the fact that former NBA MVP Allen Iverson just recently announced his retirement—and he's admitted to, "not having enough money for a cheeseburger,"—is it any wonder why A.I. is on this list?

Holding out hope to help land some guaranteed money—as NBA contracts are—Iverson held out as much hope as possible that he could grab a roster spot on his name alone.

That's what he seemed to maneuver after the Dallas Mavericks offered him a spot—on their D-League team–which Iverson was quick to shoot down, instead choosing to go overseas to get a fat contract thanks to his global appeal.

The experiment didn't go too well, though he did pocket $4 million for the 10 games he played in 2010, but he was wishing the NBA came calling again—which it never did.

I loved Iverson during his career—with one of my fondest memories being a 54-point outing he had against the Cleveland Cavs my sophomore year in high school—but while he played with his heart on his sleeve for his 17 NBA seasons, it became obvious he just wanted big money once he got into some financial trouble.


John Daly

I know I've mentioned it in a few of my pieces before, but while visiting Memphis during middle school, my parents told me they had seen John Daly at the craps table at the casino tossing hands as high as $50,000.

That right there should tell you all you need to know as to why the two-time Major champ remains to take his clubs to the course as much as possible—because he needs as much cash as possible.

Given that he's fallen on hard times with overspending—I wonder why?—Daly will go to any length to make sure he leaves a tournament with a little bit of cash.

Most of us remember that time when he had the shakes at the Greater Vancouver Open tournament in 1998—and there's no way in hell the thought of getting a little bit of money for playing was the reason he risked his health to finish his round—in which he missed the cut.


Evander Holyfield

Most of us remember Evander Holyfield as one of the best boxers of his generation, as an undisputed heavyweight champ—oh yeah, and for getting his ear gnawed off by opponent Mike Tyson in a 1997 fight.

But as we've seen with other great athletes, Holyfield liked to spend—a lot—somehow blowing through nearly all of his cash and unable to avoid foreclosure on a house of this last year.

So what would any highly competitive, former great athlete do?

Of course, announce that they're making a comeback at the age of 50, with Holyfield actually proclaiming he was a serious contender to the world heavyweight title.

I'm sure all the debt he's gathered has nothing to do with his decision at all.


Alex Rodriguez

Of any athlete in the history of sports, is there anyone more frustrating than New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez?

First off, the guy came into the league as the No. 1 pick in 1993 with the hype of a can't-miss prospect, proving this worth by winning the Rookie of the Year and being affable and well-liked while with Seattle.

Well, hasn't that changed since?

In 2001, A-Rod inked the largest contract in professional sports history—a 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

After enjoying some of his best seasons in Arlington—which he admitted were tarnished by PEDs—he was traded to the Yankees before the 2004 season.

As if the pressure of playing in New York wasn't enough, Yankees brass threw an astonishing $275 million more at Rodriguez after he opted out of his deal in 2009.

For all that money, you'd think he'd be a perfect gentleman and live up to it. But assuming you've rad the news lately, he's been nothing but a nightmare.


Albert Haynesworth

When a guy signs for $100 million, expectations and speculation are always going to be that he just followed the money.

But it wasn't just that Albert Haynesworth took the biggest offer for any defensive player in NFL history back in 2010 from the Washington Redskins, it's that he was such a prima donna afterwards that it was clear he was content with just collecting his massive paycheck, arguing with his coaches and sheltering himself from his teammates.

Highly regarded as one of the worst contracts in NFL history, Big Al went from being a feared, dominating All-Pro interior lineman, to an afterthought and underachiever who never regained his desire to play at a high level after signing that dotted line.


Latrell Sprewell

I'm not sure there's a guy on this list that epitomizes doing it all for the cash more than former NBA All-Star Latrell Sprewell.

Yeah, Spree had a solid NBA career and even played in the NBA Finals with the New York Knicks in 1999, but his legacy is a pretty unfortunate one.

For a dude who once got suspended for choking out his own coach, people mainly remember Latrell Sprewell for his famous quote of, "I've got a family to feed," in turning down a three-year, $27 million deal from the Minnesota Timberwolves back in 2004.

I've never been the best at math, but even I know that's $9 million a year. Sadly, Sprewell never again payed in an NBA game, so it wasn't exactly a wise business move on his part.