The NBA is one of the biggest sports leagues in the world, and I have been a fan for nearly three decades.
1. Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell was one of the best shooting guards of the 90s. He could take it to the rim and shoot from rainbow territory.
Despite being picked 24th in the 1992 NBA Draft, Spree showed a lot more potential than his lowly draft position.
As a rookie, he averaged 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. This was good enough to be in the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
Spree was an extremely athletic and talented player. However, he was a hothead. On December 1, 1997, he choked coach P.J. Carlesimo. This led to him getting traded to the Knicks on February 1999.
Latrell would be a solid contributor to the Knicks and would help lead them to the 1999 NBA Finals where they eventually lost to the San Antonio Spurs in five games.
The Knicks traded Sprewell to the Timberwolves on July 23, 2003, in a multi-team deal. Sprewell would join Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell to form a potent offensive trio.
The three would go as far as the Western Conference Finals where they would be dispatched by the Los Angeles Lakers.
On October 31, 2004, the Minnesota Timberwolves made an offer to Sprewell. It was a three-year, $21 million contract extension. Spreewell felt insulted and declared, "I have a family to feed."
It looks like Sprewell should have taken the offer as he later went broke. Even though Sprewell made over $100 million in his career, he spent a huge chunk of it on houses, yachts and child support.
Now Sprewell lives very modestly in a rental unit. He lost his houses to foreclosure and had his yacht repossessed. He also owed the state of Wisconsin $3.5 million in back taxes.
2. Kenny Anderson
Kenny Anderson was the starting point guard for Georgia Tech and had an excellent collegiate career where he helped lead the team to the Final Four in 1990.
He was decorated and had many accolades including Consensus First-Team All-American (1991), Second-Team All-American – NABC (1990), Third-Team All-American – AP (1990), two-time First-Team All-ACC (1990, 1991) and ACC Rookie of the Year (1990).
Kenny Anderson was the 2nd pick of the 1991 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. He paired up with the 1st pick of the 1990 Draft, Derrick Coleman, to form a devastating duo.
Kenny was a double double machine in points and assists and running mate Coleman was a double double machine in points and rebounds.
While the duo was good, the East was stacked, so they had a hard time getting out of the first round.
Kenny would then be traded to the Charlotte Hornets with Gerald Glass for Khalid Reeves and Kendall Gill.
Kenny would leave in the off-season and join the Portland Trailblazers where he would spend nearly two seasons.
Afterwards, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Since he did not want to play for them, he was flipped to the Boston Celtics.
After his lengthy stint with the Celtics, he was traded to the Seattle Supersonics and spent the rest of his career bouncing around the league and ended his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Kenny earned more than $63 million in his NBA career, but he lived a lavish lifestyle and had 11 cars at one point. He also lost a lot of money to child support and leeching family and friends.
It became so bad that he filed for bankruptcy in 2005.
3. Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker was one of the top prospects in the country. He was the starting forward for the national champion Kentucky Wildcats under Rick Pitino.
Antoine was drafted as the 6th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft. This was one of the best drafts of all time, launching players such as Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
A year later, he would be reunited with coach Pitino and former collegiate teammate Ron Mercer.
1998 was pivotal for the Celtics as they drafted Paul Pierce; he and Walker formed a deadly combination. They got as far as the Eastern Conference Finals where they fell to the New Jersey Nets.
After his departure from Boston, Walker has drifted around the league and has been involved in many trades. This would see him in stints with Dallas, Atlanta, Miami and Minnesota.
Walker would finally get his championship when he joined forces with Shaquille O' Neil and Dwyane Wade. Antoine Walker has more than $108 million in career earnings, but he lost it all due to a lavish lifestyle of big homes, cars, supporting his entourage and bad real estate investments.
He also lost a huge chunk due to gambling. Being a Chicago native, Walker was a fan of Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, instead of copying Jordan's drive and competitive fire, he copied Jordan's gambling habits.
In May 18, 2010, Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If he only managed his finances well, he could have been set for life.
4. Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson was Zion Williamson before Zion Williamson. He was an undersized power forward who could dribble, mix it up from down low and shoot it from the outside.
He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 1st pick of the 1991 NBA Draft and had an immediate impact as he was named Rookie of the Year. He would form a menacing front court with Alonzo Mourning the next season. Their supporting cast was Dell Curry, Muggsy Bogues and Kendall Gill.
The most memorable moment of the duo was during Game 4 in the first round of the 1993 NBA Playoffs with the Boston Celtics. Johnson and Mourning eliminated the Celtics, led by McHale and Parish, in four games.
Johnson and Mourning began to have friction and this was not good for the organization. The Charlotte Hornets would trade Alonzo Mourning to the Miami Heat on November 3, 1995. They would later trade Larry Johnson to the New York Knicks on July 14th, 1996.
Larry had five seasons with the Knicks before ultimately retiring in 2001 due to back problems. His most memorable moment was a 4-point play during Game 3 of the 1999 NBA Playoffs. He would help lead the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals where they would eventually fall to the Spurs.
Larry was quite the ladies man and fathered five children with four different women. The child support payments as well as the lavish NBA lifestyle drained his finances and left him broke. He filed for bankruptcy in 2005.
5. Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman was the bad boy of the NBA. He is best known for his time with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. With the Pistons, he captured two titles. With the Chicago Bulls, he captured three titles.
Dennis was once an airport janitor but rose to fame and fortune with his NBA career. He was a perennial rebounding champion and led the league in seven straight seasons. He also captured the Defensive Player of the Year award twice.
For his career, Rodman averaged 7.3 points per game and 13.1 rebounds per game.
Dennis was a colorful character and was even part of World Championship Wrestling under the New World Order faction. There was even a match where he teamed up with Hulk Hogan to challenge Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone.
Dennis made a tidy sum during his time in the league, earning over $27 million. This does not include other gigs and endorsements. Rodman lost most of his money to a scam perpetrated by Peggy Ann Fulford on professional athletes, as well as lavish partying lifestyle and to child support payments. Rodman also lost a huge chunk of money due to fines and suspensions for his on-court behavior as well as settling lawsuits. Rodman was also very charitable and gave money to the needy on a regular basis.
In 2014, Dennis filed a court document stating that he was broke and could no longer make child support payments.
© 2020 Jan Michael Ong
Jan Michael Ong (author) from Metro Manila, Philippines on November 02, 2020:
Dora the league now has financial education programs to help young athletes learn managing money.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 02, 2020:
Sad stories! To have so much and lose it may be worse than having little and keeping it. These guys needed mentors, it seems.