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Money Ball: NBA Players Who Made A Slam Dunk In Real Life

The privilege to play basketball on one of the largest platforms in the world is a dream come true for many athletes. Aside from the fame and the glory, the job comes with a rather hefty paycheck – even for non-superstars. In fact, for the 2016-2017 season, the average salary of NBA players is US$4,587,521 (approximately ₱227 million).

With all that comes a big risk, though, and there have been basketball players who went broke after their careers. Sports Illustrated even said that about 60% of NBA players go broke within the first five years after their retirement.

As the NBA season this year come to a close, let’s do a quick analysis on who scored major finance points in the history of NBA, off the court. Here, we list three of the most successful NBA players.

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaq was part of a basketball powerhouse that saw a lot of rings, and when that phase of his life was over, he continued to be a champion in managing his finances. The beauty of his journey was, it did not go off to a great start. It was when he was drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1992 that set off his basketball career to great heights. He signed a US$41 million deal over seven years – the biggest contract a rookie has ever had at the time.

Since then, Shaq has gone on to make smarter financial decisions, from investing in stocks and bonds – including blue chip stocks – to starring in ads for Buick and Gold Bond. He has also kept a couple of other key endorsements, and made other smart investments. Take his small stake in Google before it went public, for starters. He also ventured into tech initiatives, and venture capitalist funding.

At present, Shaq is believed to hold stocks in at least two types of restaurant chains, car washes, and fitness gyms; he also owns a shopping center and a movie theater. Despite that, from the start of his career, he has been grounded in matters of finance. He said, “It is not about how much money you make. The question is are you educated enough to KEEP it.”

In a later interview, he also said, “The ultimate play for me as a father is to make sure the children have something to fall back on. My brand is the way it is now out of fear, constant fear.” And it seems that he is doing a great job with managing that, based on how he is doing, and what he has managed to set aside for the future.

Michael Jordan

Ex-Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan is a name that never fails to get mentioned in any conversation about the game. Where finances are concerned, His Airness is also a top contender. First off, he is the first professional athlete to become a billionaire. In addition, he has kept his bank statements well-managed by making the right investment, endorsement, and partnership deals with some of the most popular brands in the world.

One of Jordan’s most well-known partnerships is his Air Jordan line with Nike. Forbes estimates that the brand controls almost 90% of the shoe market of the United States, and Jordan’s shoes cash in on around half of that. He has also maintained endorsement relationships with Gatorade, Hanes and Upper Deck.

When it comes to investments, MJ has also kept himself more than afloat. Currently, he holds a 90% stake in the ownership of the Charlotte Hornets. According to Forbes, when Jordan first purchased his stake, the NBA team was valued at US$175 million; now, it’s at US$780 million. And his net worth, as of May 2017, is US$1.31 billion (approximately ₱64 billion). 

Michael Jordan is quoted to have said, “In any investment, you expect to have fun and make money”, and he has certainly accomplished both and more!

LeBron James

LeBron James’ name holds quite the candle to the legacy left behind by Michael Jordan, and it seems apparent that when it comes to financial success, LeBron is doing his best to keep his own court, too. Like MJ, LeBron’s name is associated with some high-profile brands, such as Sprite, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Dunkin’ Donuts. In fact, his endorsements made him around US$53 million or ₱2.6 billion in one year, at one point.

When it comes to appreciating the value of investments, however, LeBron is on a level that is entirely his. When he was younger, he was known to make gutsy risks such as wearing adidas shoes to a Nike basketball camp, and vice versa. But he proved to be right in making those leaps, when he was awarded a 90-million dollar deal with Nike. And while he is a Samsung endorser, he was able to cash in on the US$30 million cash payout after Apple, a Samsung competitor, bought Beats by Dre. LeBron struck a deal with Beats for a minor stake in the company, in exchange for his promotion of their headphones, back in 2008.

But all these financial successes did not seem to make a money-hoarder out of LeBron. Last year, he got financial pointers from one of his money mentors, Warren Buffett. These tips include investing in low-cost index funds, going with what is simplest when it comes to evaluating what is best, and choosing primarily American companies.

For his part, LeBron seemed to have listened to Buffett, and he even considered their encounters to border on amazing. “I sent an e-mail about this to Warren Buffett. I’m a kid from Akron who lived in poverty for a long time, and I sometimes send financial statements to one of the richest guys ever. It’s kind of scary. I’m like, ‘Why is he talking to me?’”


Whether you’re aspiring to be an NBA superstar or you’re venturing on a corporate career, there’s a lot of lessons to be had from these basketball superstars who not just made a grand slam in the court, but also in their real lives.

You may have a prosperous career at the moment, but it’s not going to guarantee your financial security in the future if you don’t educate yourself on how to manage your money better.  

Many athletes go broke after their short-lived stardom because they failed to realize that money does not come from a bottomless well. It’s like having a bucket of seeds, and choosing to eat them instead of growing thousands of trees that could sustain you for years!

You don’t have to be making as much money as these NBA players to make your finances work. To build wealth, it starts with educating yourself. Financial education is practically the only key to preserving one’s wealth; that’s why it should never be underestimated.


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