The life of an NBA player can be a glamorous one, with even the minimum salary earning a player over $500,000 per year and the average salary approximately 10 times that amount. At the most lucrative end of the scale, players can earn more than $20 million per year, numbers that will likely explode after the 2015-16 season, when a new salary cap is implemented.
Despite such numbers, there are countless horror stories about former players ending up bankrupt due to poor investments, marital troubles or simply an inability to manage money properly.
In contrast, there are former players who have gone on to success in the business world, establishing themselves as a force in the entrepreneurial world. Below are five examples of players who have continued to thrive after stepping off the court:
Arguably considered to be the greatest NBA player ever, Jordan was able to make huge sums of money as both a six-time champion with the Chicago Bulls and a popular endorser. Working primarily with Nike, but also with other entities such as McDonald's and Coca Cola, allowed Jordan to become a billionaire, with a net worth of $1.1 billion.
Even though he retired over a decade ago, his Nike 'Jordan' Brand had shoe sales in 2014 of more than $2.6 billion. Investments such as that have allowed him to become majority owner with the Charlotte Hornets, with his share of the franchise estimated to be worth over $400 million.
A member of five NBA championship squads with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Basketball Hall of Fame, Johnson has been one of the more visible examples of a former player who’s become a major success in field of entrepreneurship. His current net worth is estimated at $500 million.
Among his many investments that have paid off are chains of Magic Johnson Theaters, Starbucks and TGI Fridays. More recently, his company purchased a majority interest in the EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, along with stakes in both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
A solid career with the Milwaukee Bucks set the stage for Bridgeman’s entrepreneurial career that’s defied the NBA odds and developed into a fortune that’s estimated at $400 million. The key to that growth has been his investments in both the Wendy’s and Chili’s chains.
When he retired, he owned three Wendy’s, but that’s since expanded to more than 160, making him the company’s second largest franchisee, while the Chili’s investment has blossomed into over 120 restaurants. Those investments are part of his Bridgeman Foods, Inc.
While the former San Antonio Spurs center was enshrined in 2008 in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Robinson hasn't stopped building on his success, founding the Admiral Capital Group, valued at $250 million, and helping create the Carver Academy charter school.
Robinson is now developing Thrive15, which is a subscription-based continuing online course that offers videos of entrepreneurs offering background on what’s needed to succeed as an entrepreneur.
A key member of the great 1980’s Detroit Pistons’ 'Bad Boy' teams, Johnson was known as 'The Microwave' for his ability to quickly inject some offense into the lineup. His business acumen and locale led him to create Piston Automotive during the 1990’s.
The company assembles car parts for five different car brands such as cooling systems, power trains and instrument panels. While Johnson’s net worth is listed at only $1.5 million, his company had revenue estimated at $684 million a year.
Effort and Skill Breed Success
The varied interests for the above former players shows that no specific formula exists towards having entrepreneurial success, but continuing to hustle off the court appears to be a positive indicator.