Can David Stern Stop NBA Players From Going Bankrupt?

Christopher MathewsContributor IJune 30, 2010

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Scottie Pippen attends the 23rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to Cure Paralysis at the Waldorf Astoria on September 22, 2008 in New York City.  (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The Miami Project)
Thos Robinson/Getty Images

Going all out is appreciated if not expected of professional athletes. So, it's not uncommon for NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL athletes to play by the mantra "go for broke". Of course, that should only apply between the lines.

Apparently, seven figure digits in your bank account comes with a mind altering substance. Once the ink dries on their multimillion dollar contract some athletes invest considerable cash in "hood homies", "posse's on Broadway", failing economies and "making it rain".  

It seems the NBA sets the standard for financial down spins. Take for instance retired Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen. In 2002 he purchased a Gulfstream jet for $4 million only to find out it needed $1 million worth of engine repairs after he bought it. Uhh...wow?! 

Pippen recently won a lawsuit against his former lawyer at the tune of $2 million for failing to have the jet inspected before the sell. 

Ex-NBA All Star Derrick Coleman invested millions in the Detriot economy with hopes of turning around decades of dispair while making a profit in return. Detroit, Michigan? Really?! Perhaps a community center, but millions? His investment broker needs to be excommunicated from the country for that one.

In 2005, NBA star turned analyst Charles Barkley admitted "After four years in the league, I was dead broke." Barkley also revealed he gave money away to whomever needed it feeling "the burden of forgetting where I came from".

Fortunate for TNT and all fans of the NBA, Barkley recovered by hiring a reputable agent and making sound investments. Unfortunately, the list of ex NBA players with financial dispair outweigh the list of feel good stories.

Here's a list of casualties:

Latrell Sprewell, estimated career earnings: $50 million (Filed bankruptcy, 2007) Kenny Anderson, estimated career earnings: $60 million (Filed bankruptcy, 2005) Derrick Coleman, estimated career earnings: $87 million (Filed bankruptcy, 2010) Antione Walker, estimated career earnings: $110 million (Filed bankruptcy, 2010) Scottie Pippen, estimated career earnings: $120 million (Filed bankruptcy, 2003)

Gulp! Just typing those figures made my heart drop! This epidemic spreads across all professional sports and touches athletes of both genres and all races. However black athletes from poor upbringings are affected the hardest.

In fact African American players make up 79 percent of the NBA. And according to the Toronto Star 60 percent of NBA players are broke five years after they retire. I'll let you do the math.

As cliche as it may sound, education could prevent many, if not all of these pitfalls. If you're a student athlete with pro potential, "Financial Analysis 101" & "Child Support 101A" should be required classes. 

Even then, one year of pretend class work can't undue a lifetime of learned experiences. There has to be a cultural shift in thinking.

Drive one car. Live in one house. Wear a shirt more than once. Make extended family pay for their own dinner. Learn to say NO. Live the life of a retiree-once you've retired. Loan money, don't give it away.

Request a background check on your investment broker. Pay your taxes. Read the fine print. Don't start expensive habits- gambling, drugs, alcoholism,etc. Wear condoms...every time.

True, in the end they'll probably have less friends. But at least going for broke will mean diving in the stands for loose balls not digging in the couch for loose change. 


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