Not all basketball players are living the Shaquille O’Neal lifestyle of fancy cars, multiple palatial homes and enough money to pay sidepieces to keep quiet. Brandon Jennings, for example, drives a Ford Edge.
The NBA Players Association is taking steps toward helping ballers better manage their money, especially with a potential lockout looming ahead after this season.
Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, who earned about $2.2 million last year in his first NBA season, is the proud owner of a Ford Edge, which cost $26,000.
New York Knicks guard Roger Mason Jr. said he recently traded in his Bentley convertible for a used Cadillac Escalade.
And when he needed to work out and get therapy during the offseason, James Jones of the Miami Heat said he used the team’s facilities instead of paying for a private trainer. “We’ve got a lockout coming,” Mr. Jones said. “I’m not going to pay that much money to have somebody stretch me for an hour.”
As the NBA and its players union continue to steam toward a possible work stoppage after this season, the union is trying to see to it that if the paychecks dry up, its members won’t be forced to do what many of them had to do last time this happened: liquidate their posh possessions to pay the bills.
Jennings and Jones aren’t alone in their conservative stance towards spending:
Brandan Wright of the Golden State Warriors, who was a first-round draft pick and will have earned $11 million before his 24th birthday, is typical of a new attitude. He said he owns one BMW and a home in Nashville, Tenn., for his immediate family.
Mr. Wright said he likes to get “nice sandwiches” rather than lavish meals when he’s eating out on the road in order to save cash. And if his spending ever gets out of hand, he said, he has trained his financial advisers to call him to tell him to rein it in.
“Cheap is the best way to be,” he said.
For good reason too. A number of players were caught unprepared the last time a lockout kept the ball out of play for months…
The last time the NBA had a work stoppage, about a dozen years ago, the league shut down for almost half a season. In that case, owners exercised an early opt-out clause in the contract, taking the players by surprise. Union executive director Billy Hunter had been at his post for less than two years and veteran players and agents said many of their clients and teammates didn’t seem to realize their multiple mortgages and car payments wouldn’t stop coming after their paychecks did.
Because many NBA players come from families where living month-to-month is the norm, they said, few made contingency plans. Then-union president Patrick Ewing famously explained at the time that while NBA players make a lot of money, “we spend a lot, too.”
The current collective-bargaining agreement expires after this season. But this time, there has been plenty of fair warning. The argument about player pay has been simmering for years. NBA Commissioner David Stern, who thinks players are paid too much, has said that teams lost more than $300 million last year. The union has disputed that claim.
In the meantime, Mr. Hunter has been sending flyers to players’ homes for two years to make sure they know to cut expenses. Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers, who is the president of the players’ union, has been recording lockout-themed podcasts that are emailed out to players, and the union is issuing an instruction manual that explains tips for saving money, like renting houses instead of buying them and trying to keep a strict limit on fancy cars.
New Jersey Nets guard Jordan Farmar said every penny he spends is part of a long-term budget he prepares for himself to make sure he doesn’t end up like “the players who make millions of dollars and still somehow end up living paycheck to paycheck.”
One of the first things Mr. Farmar said he did with his money was purchase several rental properties in Los Angeles, so he could “make my money work for me.”
Mr. Jones of the Heat, who is the players union’s secretary-treasurer, was a finance major when he was at the University of Miami. He said he tried to keep himself on a 20/80 budget when he joined the league in 2003—spending 20% of his salary, saving 80%. When he played for the Suns from 2005 to 2007, he rented an apartment in Phoenix while paying off a mortgage and taxes on a home he bought in Miami. If he came into the league now, he said, he would have only had one property at a time.
Unfortunately not everybody has gotten the memo:
Mark Bartelstein, an agent whose firm represents more than 30 players, said that even though most players have financial advisers, “the key isn’t having one, it’s actually listening to one.”
When asked how the union is encouraging younger players to save money, J.J. Hickson, a 22-year-old first-round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers, said: “I don’t know anything about that saving stuff.”
SMH. When will these New Money negroes learn???