In 2008, the NBA Players’ Association claimed that 60 percent of pro basketball players go broke within five years of retirement. It’s not hard to see why. In the annals of “easy come, easy go,” few people see it come and go like professional athletes.
While it’s true that many take their salaries and invest them in sensible and enduring business ventures, many others squander their multimillion-dollar salaries on expensive cars, jewelry and mansions, and when the checks stop coming in, they have little to show for it.
Basketball player Latrell Sprewell first made headlines during his tenure with the Golden State Warriors. During a 1997 practice, he choked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, and earned a 68-game suspension. Sprewell still went on to a substantial career, earning almost $100 million.
It all came to an end when he turned down a three-year contract extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves worth $30 million. According to Sprewell, this was simply not enough money. He said, “I have a family to feed … [team owner Glen Taylor] better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon.” (Sprewell was referencing ChildFund International commercials, which provided sponsorship to deprived children around the world.)
The Timberwolves’ upper management, unmoved by his family’s tragic situation, didn’t offer him one more cent, and by the end of the 2005 season, he was unemployed. By 2007, his yacht, “Milwaukee’s Best,” had been repossessed by federal marshals after missed payments and insurance worth over $1 million. In 2008, he defaulted on the mortgage on his Milwaukee home, sending it into foreclosure. His Westchester mansion went into foreclosure two years later.