Former NBA star Gilbert Arenas made an estimated $140 million during his time in the NBA according to Basketball-Reference.com. That’s over now, and the 37-year-old isn’t pulling in those kind of bucks these days, but he’s keeping busy by being available for interviews as of late.
Still, the perception of professional athletes versus their reality is often quite different. In a recent feature with Bleacher Report, Arenas said that during his initial seasons with the Golden State Warriors, it wasn’t all glamorous.
In fact, Arenas claims that he had a budget of just $400 per month during his first two years in the league thanks to a miscalculation on where he would be drafted.
Arenas expected to be taken in the first round. Instead, he was the first pick of the second round. That gave him a salary of $332,000 for Year 1.
“What had happened was,” he begins. The year was 2001, and Arenas was set to enter the NBA after two seasons at the University of Arizona. In his mind, he was a first-round pick; and if a thought exists in Arenas’ mind, he usually brings it into the real world. So he borrowed a loan expecting a first-round payday. Then, he says, “I bought my chain, bought my Escalade with the five TVs and the stereo system.” The audio equipment alone ran about $60,000. The chain, which bore Arenas’ initials, cost another $40,000. Draft night came. Arenas fell to the Warriors at No. 31 in a 30-team league.
“When I went 31,” Arenas says, “I got so mad that I threw the chain I bought out the window; gone.” Arenas’ second-round salary was something like $330,000, which was basically spent by the time he showed up at Golden State. Over his first two years in the league, Arenas’ budget was $400 per month.
“Imagine trying to be an NBA player for $400 per month,” he says. He rented a small house and took as much food as possible from the team plane. “Try going on a date in the middle of the month with $100 left. I got gas, I had two dogs and a girlfriend at the time. There was no date night! It was horrible.”
Arenas says a lot of the stuff these days, and so you’ll have to take this with a grain of salt. Still, as anyone who watched “Broke” knows, it can be a dangerous world out there for an athlete who has the mentality that money is both abundant and endless.
Ol’ Gil is a cautionary tale in many ways for young NBAers, and making sure you don’t spend your money until you have it guaranteed is good advice in any case.