Despite the typically huge amount of money NBA players make during their careers, the sad truth is that a lot of them don't manage their funds very well. In fact, a Sports Illustrated study from a couple of years ago estimated that roughly 60% of NBA players are broke just five years after retiring. This is a sport where the average salary is $8 million, yet more than half of the league's players don't even make it a decade without losing it all. It's a sad state of affairs.
While the stories of athletes going broke is all too common, it's refreshing to hear of an athlete actually taking great care of his money.
One of the best examples is Jamal Mashburn.
During his NBA days, Jamal earned around $75 million in salary over 12 seasons in the NBA. After taxes and agent fees, that would be around $30 million before you spend a dime on lifestyle expenses. So how is Jamal Mashburn currently sitting on a net worth of $100 million… and growing?
In the years after his retirement Jamal has built an investment portfolio that would make the average hedge fund billionaire blush. Today Jamal owns over 100 food franchises, including Papa John's, Outback Steakhouse and Dunkin Donuts. Mashburn owns five car dealerships, a waste management company and even sits on the board of directors of newspaper chain McCLatchy. He's an early investor in a cannabis company, developing hotels and even made an unsuccessful $275 million bid to acquire the Hornets NBA franchise.
How has he done it?
While other former athletes are struggling to make ends meet, Mashburn is thriving and even giving back to the community. It starts with his work ethic and determination to be more than just a basketball player, which dates back to when he was a child, watching businessmen carrying their briefcases around.
Jamal Mashburn was born on November 29, 1972 in New York City. After a successful prep career at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, he joined the University of Kentucky basketball team and helped lead the team to the FInal Four in his junior year, receiving consensus First Team All-American honors. And even though Mashburn excelled at basketball, thanks to his mother encouraging him to pursue other things to fall back on, or in Mashburn's words, to" fall forward on," he continued learning in other areas besides the game.
He wanted to give back, too, and before he signed his first professional contract, Mashburn donated $500,000 to establish and endow the Mashburn Scholarship Fund at the University of Kentucky. The scholarship identifies ninth grade students in the Lexington, Kentucky area and tracks them throughout high school. If the students meet their academic and personal goals, they receive a full scholarship to attend either the University of Kentucky or Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Entering the NBA
Mashburn was taken 4th overall in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. The team was terrible during his first year, just winning 13 games. The following season, along with Jim Jackson and Jason Kidd, the Mavs' "Triple J" trio was entertaining and improved, but still failed to make the playoffs. Mashburn was traded during the 1996-97 season to the Miami Heat. He was less effective individually, but saw success in the playoffs, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season with the team.
That was the pinnacle of postseason success, though, and after another disappointing run, Mashburn was sent to the Charlotte Hornets. He played the rest of his career there (and in New Orleans, when the team relocated), making his only All-Star team in 2003. He played his last game in 2004, sitting out the entire 2004-05 season due to a knee injury. Mashburn decided to undergo microfracture knee surgery, a risky process that some NBA players have never recovered from.
Even though he was going to miss the whole season, the Philadelphia 76ers traded for him. Mashburn never played for the Sixers, though; he simply couldn't recover from his knee injury. Mashburn has stated that he didn't want to play to the point of not being able to have a high quality of life after basketball, so in 2006, he retired.
For his career, Mashburn finished with per game averages of 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He's also the answer to a pretty unique trivia question, as he's one of just six NBA players to average at least 20 points per game in their final season–technically his two inactive years don't count for this record. Mashburn averaged 20.8 points his final year with the Hornets, and joins Jerry West, Larry Bird, Drazen Petrovic, Reggie Lewis and Michael Jordan as the only players to reach that scoring level in their swan song season. Pretty impressive company!
Since his retirement, Mashburn has kept his business savvy going. In addition to his franchises, he has a venture capital firm and a marketing agency. In 2013, the small forward teamed up with former NFL player Winston Justice to launch Mashburn Justice Capital Partners, a firm investing in high-tech startups. One of their biggest bets is an Illinois-based cannabis company called Revolution Global. He's also entered the world of hotel development, working on a project in Rochester, Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Mashburn's marketing agency, Mashburn Sackett, was founded in 2014, with locations in Chicago and Miami. The agency's focus is to serve the growing interest in smaller agencies that respond to internet changes more rapidly and effectively. The agency specializes in interactive, experiential and viral marketing, social media, integrated film, 3D production, and other related digital services.
In an interview last year with nola.com, Jamal talked about his strategy:
"A lot of athletes reach out to me about transitions and everything like that. One thing I always tell them is I planned my transition when I entered. That's how I look at business as well. When you buy a company or you invest in something, my next question is when is the exit? Or when are you thinking about exiting?"
Mashburn has continued giving back, too: he's a founding member, officer and director of The MAP Foundation and Mashburn Family Foundation, both nonprofits designed to assist others, both in health and education. The former baller used to serve on the Advisory Board for Central Bank & Trust Company in Lexington, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the National Forest Foundation. He also shared his basketball knowledge with viewers, serving as an analyst on ESPN from 2006 until 2010.
Too often, we hear the cautionary tale of the athlete who blows through his bank account, purchasing lavish and unnecessary items. But rather than splurging on a car or decking out his home with the latest trendy electronics, Mashburn has continued to work hard and make wise investments, and it's paying off in a big way.