NBA contracts have skyrocketed in the 21st century. These days if you look across the league, guys like KD and James Harden are making over $38 million a year. Steph Curry makes $40 million a year. It’s absolutely outrageous, but that’s what the market demands.
Yet it wasn’t always this way. Sure, professional athletes have always more than the common man, but not this much more. Guys like Russell Westbrook and James Harden have barely hit 30 and they’re already among the wealthiest players in league history.
But what happens when that contract runs out and retirement hits? We’ve all heard the incredible stories of former athletes gone broke in retirement. Failed investments, too many cars, multiple divorces. These are just some of the reasons why stars blow through their incredible salaries so easily.This list of players we’ve put together didn’t have the benefit of the salaries of today, but they used the money they made wisely and are still making massive amounts of money now in retirement. Some of them are aspiring moguls with investments everywhere, while some of them have started new careers.
Flip through and take a look, some of the names and stories may surprise you.
20. Allen Houston
Allan Houston played in the league for 14 seasons and man did that guy have some big contracts. Houston had 6 seasons of 8-figure salary years. He earned over $135 million in total. Not bad for a guy who only made 2 All-Star teams.
In retirement, Houston has stayed in the game serving as assistant to the president of basketball operations for the Knicks, as well as assistant general manager. Houston also was formerly the general manager for the Knicks G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks.
Estimated Net Worth: $55 million
19. Ray Allen
Ray Allen made over $182 million over the course of 18 seasons in the league. Allen had a remarkable career that was extended by his incredible shooting ability. Allen was a 10-time NBA All-Star and 2-time NBA Champion.
In retirement, Ray Allen tries to keep busy. Owning an organic restaurant in South Florida helps with that. Ray Allen has also served as an NBA spokesperson for the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program and was a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Estimated Net Worth: $100 million
18. Tim Duncan
Longevity is the key to making a lot of money in the NBA. Well, that and being very good at basketball. Tim Duncan did both. He spent 22 seasons in the league and made over $241 million. Tim Duncan didn’t have a very public persona off the court, but he did bring in about $2 million a year from endorsements with Adidas, AT&T, and HEB.
In 2013, Duncan opened the BlackJack Speed Shop, a vehicle customization shop in San Antonio, TX. Duncan hasn’t always had the easiest time with his money off the court though. In 2015, he sued his former investment advisor claiming over $20 million in losses.
Estimated Net Worth: $130 million
17. Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd made over $182 million over the course of his 19-year career in the NBA. During the 2008-09 season, his highest paid, Kidd made a whopping $21 million. Dropping dimes is what got Kidd second place on the all-time assists list, and you can get a lot of dimes with $21 million.
Kidd’s coaching career began immediately after his playing career ended, becoming just the 3rd person since the ABA-NBA merger to become a head coach the first season after retiring as a player. Kidd spent a season as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets before spending 3.5 seasons as the Milwaukee Bucks head coach. These days he is an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Estimated Net Worth: $21.4 million
16. Karl Malone
Karl Malone made $104,133,378 in his 17-year NBA career. The Mailman won 2 MVP awards and was named to 11 straight All-NBA 1st Teams between 1989-1999. Malone won was given every award there is in basketball, but wasn’t ever able to win a championship.
Karl Malone has invested his money wisely. He owns three car dealerships, a Teriyaki Grill restaurant, an ice cream shop and an Arby’s. Malone also owns three Jiffy Lube franchises and part-owns Burger King franchises in Utah and Idaho. So much for mailing it in during retirement.
Estimated Net Worth: $85 million
15. Juwan Howard
Juwan Howard made history when he became the first NBA player to be given a $100 million contract when he resigned with the Washington Wizards for 105 million. Howard made a grand total of $149,014,155 over the course of his 19-year career in the league.
Since retiring from playing basketball, Howard has stayed in basketball. Immediately after retiring Howard took a role with the Heat as an assistant coach. In May of 2019, Howard was named men’s basketball coach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
Estimated Net Worth: $80 million
14. Chris Webber
The former 5-time All-Star earned $178 million over 15 years in the NBA. During his time in the league, Webber played for 6 teams but never won a championship. He did however, have his own shoe. Webber, even cut ties with Nike because they refused to lower the price of the shoe. Who knew C-Webb was such a good guy?
Outside of basketball, Chris Webber has his own investment company that focuses on athletes, real estate and film. Webber has also been working as an analyst for TNT’s Inside the NBA. In 2018, Webber even made it to the silver screen with a role in the film Uncle Drew.
Estimated Net Worth: $80 million
13. Bill Bradley
Bill Bradley’s NBA career got off to a slow start as he accepted a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford instead of entering the NBA Draft after his collegiate career at Princeton ended. Eventually, Bradley made it to the New York Knicks where he played or 11 years.
In retirement, Bill Bradley took a unique path to passing the time. He became a United States Senator, and eventually a presidential candidate. Bradley was a 3-term former Senator from the state of New Jersey. He also spent time working as a consultant to some Wall Street Banks. Very different than grabbing rebounds in Madison Square Garden.
Estimated Net Worth: $5.1 Million
12. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant made an incredible amount of money in his NBA career, over $323 million to be exact. That’s just his playing salary and doesn’t include all the endorsement deals he had. These included Nintendo, Turkish Airlines, Sprite, and of course both Adidas and Nike. This is how you’re rewarded for being one of the all-time greats.
In retirement, Kobe was working towards full-time mogul status. Kobe had launched a venture capital firm called, Bryant-Stibel, wrote an autobiography and was working on a children’s book with Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. Kobe also was involved in the film industry and won an Academy Award in 2018 for his short film, Dear Basketball.
Estimated Net Worth: $600 million
11. Caron Butler
Caron Butler made $83,115,548 over the course of 17 seasons in the NBA. The journeyman was never the best player on any of the 9 teams he played on, but he made two All-Star games and even picked up a championship ring with the Mavericks in 2011.
Despite the longevity of his career and the massive amounts of money he made during that time, Butler was thinking about what happens after basketball even when he was playing. Before retiring, Butler invested in Burger King franchises, and real estate in his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin.
Estimated Net Worth: $26 million
10. Grant Hill
The Blue Devil put that Duke education to work during his NBA career. Grant earned around $140 million in salary during his 20-year NBA career. He also made an additional $120 million in endorsements during that career, including the largest shoe contract in history at the time.
In retirement, Hill has continued to roll in the dough. In 2018, Hill signed a lifetime contract with Fila that pays him more than $10 million per year, despite the fact that he has been retired since 2014. This is not to mention his part-ownership of the Atlanta Hawks. Grant Hill is a very smart and very rich man.
Estimated Net Worth: $250 million
9. Yao Ming
Yao Ming was a phenomenon when he first arrived in the NBA. He was Chinese and the tallest player in NBA history to that point. Oh, and he could play. This earned Yao $93,390,336 over the course of a 9-year NBA career. During his playing career, Yao had many endorsement deals including Pepsi, Visa, Apple and Garmin.
In Yao’s post-NBA life, he has finished a degree in economics and opened up a winery in Napa Valley, California. Yao also bought his former Chinese Basketball Association club, the Shanghai Sharks, when they were on the verge of bankruptcy. Yao also owns two restaurants and is invested in many other companies in China.
Estimated Net Worth: $120 million
8. Penny Hardaway
Penny Hardaway made $120,479,007 over the course of his 14-year NBA career. The slick shooting guard would make 4 straight All-Star teams between 1995-1998, and won an Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.
Don’t worry about Penny, he spent that money wisely. Hardaway owns a barbershop and beauty salon and a turf business in Memphis. In 2012, he was announced as part of an ownership group that purchased a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies. These days he is the head coach of men’s basketball program at the University of Memphis, his alma mater.
Estimated Net Worth: $60 million
7. Walt Frazier
Like so many sports stars of an era before mega contracts, Walt Frazier’s annual salaries never came close to what the stars of today make. Frazier’s highest annual salary during his career was $300,000, which adjusted for inflation today would be about $8.8 million.
After his playing career ended Frazier went into broadcasting and is currently a color commentator for MSG broadcasting New York Knicks games. Frazier is also well known to younger generations for his “Just For Men” mustache and beard dye commercials with Keith Hernandez.
Estimated Net Worth: $4.5 million
6. Charles Barkley
“The Great Mound of Rebound” made 40,301,000 in his 13-year NBA career. Barkley earned that money through a Hall of Fame career that averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Barkley was also won 2 Olympic Gold Medals with the “Dream Team.”
In his post-playing career, Charles Barkley has shone as bright as he did on the court. Barkley is most well known for his role as an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA, for which he has won 3 Sports Emmy’s has also worked for TNT and CBS as an analyst for their coverage of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Barkley has also been a spokesman for a few companies including WeightWatchers, T-Mobile and CDW.
Estimated Net Worth: $45 million
5. Jerry West
Jerry West played in a day and age where NBA players were not making millions and millions of dollars. In fact, West’s highest annual salary was just $90,000. Adjusted for inflation that adds up to about $485,000 a year. That’s not a bad wage for most of us, but it’s not exactly competitive in today’s NBA.
“The Logo” has made up for those lost wages in his career as a league executive. West has made millions spending a second career as an executive for the Lakers, Warriors, and now as a consultant for the Clippers.
Estimated Net Worth: $55 million
4. David Robinson
“The Admiral” earned $110,708,513 over the course of 15 seasons in the NBA. That’s a heck of a lot better than the salary he would have made if he’d stayed in the Navy. The Hall of Fame induction is a plus too.
In retirement, Robinson earned an MBA and formed a venture capital firm called Admiral Capital Group. The firm has a portfolio worth over $100 million. So, Davis Robinson won’t be coming to you begging for change anytime soon.
Estimated Net Worth: $230 million
3. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is considered one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. Big enough and versatile enough to play all 5 positions on the floor, Johnson continued to show that versatility in his post-playing career. Johnson earned a total of $39,341,860 in his playing career.
The real money came for Magic has come off the court though. Between endorsements, a television show, a record label, and Magic Johnson Enterprises, Magic has had a busy post-playing career. That’s not to mention his involvement in the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The guy is a mogul.
Estimated Net Worth: $600 Million
2. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq Diesel earned a total of $286,344,668 over the course of 19 seasons in the NBA, including a career-high of $27,696,430 during his final season with the Lakers. This doesn’t include endorsement deals such as his Shaq shoes, or the money he made from his movie Kazaam.
The Big Aristotle’s post-playing career has been a slam dunk. Shaq still earns around $60 million per year from endorsements and business ventures. This is not to mention the money he earns from his job on TNT’s Inside the NBA, which has earned him an Emmy Award. In 2019 it was announced Shaq would be joining the Board of Directors at Papa Johns and was buying 9 Papa Johns franchises.
Estimated Net Worth: $400 Million
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan hardly needs any introduction. Over the course of MJ’s 15-year career, he earned $89,772,500. When you look at MJ’s year-by-year salary one thing jumps out. During his final two seasons with the Bulls, Jordan earned over $30 million per year. Incredibly, just one other player was making over $15 million per year during the same time period.
In his post-retirement life, MJ has continued to rake in the cash. Jordan spent s few years as Director of Basketball Operations for the Wizards, before buying the Charlotte Hornets. These days he is no longer the sole owner of the team but he is still the majority owner. Oh, and he still makes money from the apparel brand that bears his name. The GOAT is the greatest on the court and the greatest off the court.
Estimated Net Worth: $1.9 Billion
These men handled the fame and wealth of being an NBA player well. As you read, they’ve either invested their playing salaries wisely or they’ve used their playing expertise to make new careers in the game. Either way, these are the positive stories. But it doesn’t always end up with a happy ending. Sometimes all that money and fame is just too much to handle. It’s easy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on cars, jewelry and other expensive luxuries when you’re making millions, but what happens when those NBA checks stop coming? Well, here’s a list of NBA players who’ve gone flat broke after their playing days ended.