From Dream Job to Day Job: The 9 to 5 Jobs After the NBA
Getting to the NBA is a dream come true, but alas, there is a life after basketball. And that post-basketball life may very well mean working regular jobs us plebians are so familiar with. Some players work to support themselves after squandering their millions while others work to simply occupy their time. Here are 30 NBA players who took regular jobs after retiring from basketball.
Charlie Ward: Doing Double Duty
One of the greatest two-sport athletes in recent memory, former Florida State star Charlie Ward was an ace on both the basketball court and the gridiron. Ward starred as Florida State’s quarterback, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1993 and the 1993 National Championship. When the football season ended, Ward swapped his football cleats for basketball sneakers and starred for FSU’s basketball team.
As a point guard, Ward led the Seminoles to consecutive NCAA Tournaments, reaching the sweet sixteen in 1992. After an 11-year NBA career, Ward took up coaching and, much like his playing career, coached both high school football and basketball.
Shawn Kemp: From Dunks to Dive Bars
Seattle’s “Reign Man,” otherwise known as Shawn Kemp, was a high-flying dunker and marquee player for the Seattle SuperSonics from the late ’80s through the mid-90s. However, problems with drugs and alcohol derailed Shawn “Hemp’s” career, and the former six-time All-Star found himself out of the league sooner than he would have liked.
After numerous failed comeback attempts, Kemp officially called it a career. In 2010, Kemp launched Oskar’s Kitchen in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. The bar was a favorite watering hole among locals, with cheap drinks and hangover-curing grub. Sadly in 2015, Oskar’s shuttered its doors, leaving Kemp and the city of Seattle reeling once again.
Shandon Anderson: Top Chef
Having a 10-year NBA career is very respectable. In fact, it’s well above the league average of 4.8 years. Shandon Anderson, a former second-round pick from the University of Georgia, never made any major headline news while in the NBA, but he did enough to stick around the league for a decade and win a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006.
For his career, Anderson averaged 7.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. After retiring from the NBA, Anderson, a vegetarian, wasted no time in finding his next venture and went from tossing alley-oops to tossing salads. Anderson, who attended multiple culinary schools, became a chef and opened Drink Art, a vegan Thai restaurant in Atlanta. Like Shawn Kemp’s restaurant, Drink Art closed down a few years after opening.
Detlef Schrempf: A Wealth of Knowledge
Detlef Schrempf, a beloved German giant who played in the NBA for 16 seasons, was a three-time All-Star. In 1996, Schrempf, as a member of the Sonics, became the first German-born player to reach the NBA Finals. Ultimately, Schrempf and the Sonics would falter to Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Schrempf retired from basketball in 2001 and immediately began using the business knowledge he learned while at the University of Washington to launch a venture capital firm and the Detlef Schrempf Foundation. To date, Schrempf’s foundation has raised over $15 million for children in the Pacific Northwest. Today, Schrempf is the Director of Business Development at Coldstream Wealth Management.
LaRue Martin: What Can LaRue Do for You?
Before Greg Oden, before Kwame Brown, and before Markelle Fultz (and many more), there was LaRue Martin, a 6-foot-11 center from Loyola who many would consider to be the greatest draft bust in history. Martin lasted just four seasons in the NBA, averaging a paltry 5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes played.
Suffice it to say, Martin was not worthy of the first overall pick in the ’72 draft. After flaming out of the NBA, Martin moved into the corporate world, taking a position as a UPS driver before rising through the company ranks. Today, as one of the company’s longest-tenured employees, Martin is the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. His message to the doubters, the critics? “There is life after sports. Period.”
Mark Blount: Don’t Get it Twisted
Mark Blount’s NBA career got off to a lethargic start. In fact, it was almost over before it ever began. But finally Blount found his footing and made his breakthrough in 2000 with the Boston Celtics. For the next decade, Blount was one of the league’s more reliable centers, rebounding, scoring, blocking shots, and contributing to his team’s success in whatever capacity possible.
After the 2008-9 season, the congenial 7-footer retired and embarked on a sweet journey. Blount, whose true entrepreneurial passion is real estate, opened up multiple Auntie Annie’s and Cinnabon restaurant franchises in Florida. Blount originally purchased the franchises for $700,000 and sold them for about $2 million.
Dan Dickau: A Cut Above the Rest
Point guard Dan Dickau, a Gonzaga product, averaged 5.3 points per game for his six-year NBA career. That number would actually be a lot lower had Dickau not erupted for 13.2 points during the 2004-5 season with New Orleans. Dickau’s career was defined more by the amount he bounced around the league rather than his on-court production, or lack thereof.
Known during his early playing days for his curly locks, it was a natural progression for Dickau to go into an industry focused around hair. Thus, Dickau’s business was born. The Barbers is a sports-centric barber shop located in Spokane, Washington, where fans can sit back, get a fresh cut, and reminisce about their favorite Dickau memories. On the side, Dickau moonlights as a college basketball announcer.
Bryant Reeves: Big Country, Bigger Ranch
Known as “Big Country,” notorious NBA bust Bryant Reeves was the nation’s biggest attraction when he and Oklahoma State went on a torrid, surprising run to the 1995 Final Four. That put Big Country on the map, making him one of the hottest commodities in basketball. The fledgling Vancouver Grizzlies selected the introverted Reeves with the sixth pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.
Reeves was serviceable but nowhere near the franchise player Vancouver thought he’d be. After six seasons, Reeves retired and moved back to Oklahoma where he purchased a 300-acre farm situated on the Arkansas River. A family man, Reeves spends the majority of his time hanging with his three kids and tending to his farm, replete with about 30 Limousine cattle.
Vin Baker: From Star to Starbucks
To lose $100 million, one had to have had at least $100 million. Vin Baker was a four-time All-Star who made the biggest impact of his career playing for the Bucks and Sonics where the power forward/center would regularly average double-doubles in rebounds and points.
Vin knew how to get to the rack, but what he didn’t know how to do was manage his money, and after a series of disastrous investments, Vin went bankrupt, losing $100 million in the process. Needing to earn cash quickly, Vin took up a job at a Starbucks franchise in Connecticut, his home state. Vin was a shift manager before becoming an assistant coach with his former team- the Milwaukee Bucks.
Adrian Dantley: Crossovers to Crossing Guard
As a 15-year NBA vet, former six-time All-Star and tw0-time NBA Scoring Champion Adrian Dantley surely made an abundance of money and could have retired comfortably. But rather than sit idly as his days passed by, Dantley, a 2008 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, decided to become a crossing guard for the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.
Contrary to popular belief, Dantley didn’t do it for the money — he’s paid $14,000 per year — he “did it for the kids.” In 2013, Dantley told the Washington Post that he “just didn’t want to sit around the house all day.”
Caron Butler: The Burger King
Caron Butler’s journey to NBA stardom was anything but easy or traditional. As a teenager, Butler was dealing crack cocaine and had a long rap sheet with local law enforcement. He was one small step away from ruining his life for good before he found basketball. When he did find the game, he never looked back.
Butler starred at UConn and was a two-time NBA All-Star and NBA champion. Despite the stardom, Butler never forgot where he came from, and he immortalized his improbable journey in his autobiography “Tuff Juice.” Butler, who also worked at Burger King during his youth, now owns six franchises across America.
Tim Duncan: Part Man, Part Machine
A mysterious man, a silent killer, Tim Duncan is a surefire Hall of Fame player and undeniably one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. Drafted first overall in 1997, Duncan, a 15-time All-Star, went on to win five NBA Finals, two regular-season MVP awards, and three Finals MVP awards.
Without Tim Duncan, the Spurs would not be the dominant dynasty that ruled the NBA for nearly two decades. In 2013, Duncan began prepping for retirement by opening up BlackJack Speed Shop, a high-end car customization shop in San Antonio. Duncan, who wore the No. 21, paid homage to that part of his game by naming the shop after the classic card game blackjack.
Brandon Roy: The Wizard of Washington
Had bad knees not derailed Brandon Roy’s career, the shooting guard may very well have been on a Hall of Fame trajectory. The former sixth overall pick out of Washington was a three-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year for the Portland Trail Blazers. Five games into the 2012-13 season, Roy’s knees had finally had enough and the injury-riddled star retired.
However, Roy would not be kept from the game for too long. In 2016, Roy began his coaching career at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School, and one year later, Roy led Hale to a perfect 29-0 season. For his efforts, Roy was named the Naismith National High School Coach of the Year. In 2017, Roy departed Hale to coach at Garfield High, his alma mater.
Scottie Pippen: Stay Clear of Scottie’s John Deer
Six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen, who acted as Michael Jordan’s wingman during the Bulls reign atop the NBA in the early-to-mid-90s, is regarded as one of the game’s greatest all-around players and was a key figure in helping popularize the NBA across the globe. What Pippen wasn’t was the most savvy businessman, nor a generous tipper.
Pippen, who was notorious for being stingy, was given the nickname “No Tippin’ Pippen.” Along with numerous other investments, Pippen and his brother bought a farm in his hometown of Hamburg, Arkansas. According to CNBC, from 2003-05 Pippen earned nearly $80,000 in government checks thanks to his farm, but trouble loomed on the horizon. In 2018, $50,000 worth of farm equipment was stolen from Pippen’s land.
Karl Malone: A Jack of All Trades
Karl Malone is one of the greatest to ever play the game without winning a ring, but the two-time MVP and 14-time All-Star is far too busy with other hobbies, jobs, side gigs, and investments to dwell on any missed opportunities on the hardwood. Malone retired from ball after losing in the 2004 NBA Finals and embarked on an ecclectic series of entrepreneurial journies.
Listing them all here would be an exercise in futility, but this article from Utah’s Desert News sums it up nicely. Highlights include Malone’s trucking business, a timber harvesting project, a farm where he raises deer, guided hunting trips on said farm, and used car dealerships. Again, these ventures are just a drop in the bucket for the never-complacent Malone.
Kenny Anderson: Coach Kenny
Kenny Anderson was a child prodigy in basketball’s favorite city, New York. Anderson rose above the intense competition on the city’s hallowed grounds to become the nation’s No.1 recruit. He chose Georgia Tech, led them to the Final Four, and, after two years of college ball, was selected second overall by the Nets in the 1991 draft.
Anderson, who earned $63 million during his career, filed for bankruptcy in 2005. After squandering his money, Anderson took up coaching to fill his time and pockets. Initially, Anderson struggled to land a gig before Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, Florida, offered him the head coaching gig. In 2018, Anderson became the head coach at Fisk University, an NAIA school in Nashville.
Vinnie Johnson: Piston Power
Nicknamed “The Microwave,” Detroit Pistons legend Vinnie Johnson was a two-time NBA champion who had his No.15 retired by the team. After the 1991-2 season, Johnson retired but didn’t stray far from his adopted home of Detroit. After a few failed business ventures, Johnson got into the automotive industry, Detroit’s bread and butter.
He launched the Piston group which has exceeded all expectations and projections. In 2017, Johnson acquired another Detroit-based automotive manufacturing company, increasing his employees from 1,300 to 8,300. Johnson expects the Piston Group to do over $2.5 billion in sales, making the Piston Group one of the biggest auto supplier companies in the world.
Darko Milicic: The Apple of His Eye
The Detroit Pistons royally messed up their 2003 draft when they selected Darko Milicic second overall. The Serbian bust was taken over future Hall of Famers and All-Stars such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, David West, Kyle Korver, and pretty much everyone else. Milic stuck around the league for 10 seasons, doing virtually nothing except occupy a precious spot on the bench.
After his miserable career concluded, Darko returned home to Serbia where he purchased an apple orchard. Milicic owns 125 acres full of apple and cherry trees. Milicic exports the apples to various countries including Dubai, Russia, and some African nations. According to an ESPN story, Darko has “invested about $8 million into his apple orchard, and growth has been steady.”
Shawn Bradley: World’s Tallest Cowboy
Tall hardly describes the 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley, a former No.2 overall pick out of BYU. Bradley has been described as a lot of things, from bust, to giant, to giant bust. Unfortunately for Bradley, the massive center was never able to fully capitalize on his physical advantages and translate his size into stats. The 2005 season would be Bradley’s last, and the Utah native returned home. There Bradley became heavily involved in biking, politics, and philanthropy.
In 2010, Bradley made a run for the Utah House of Representatives, narrowly losing. Bradley was also the vice principal for West Ridge Academy, a treatment facility for troubled teens. For the average man, those activities would suffice, but not for Bradley. In addition to those endeavors, Bradley is the owner of a 350-cattle ranch. The hardest part of ranching? Finding a saddle big enough for him.
Steve Francis: Denim Designer
Selected second overall in 1999 by the Grizzlies and traded to the Rockets, Steve “The Franchise” Francis was an explosive point guard with an impressive array of offensive skills. Francis was the 2000 Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star, but personal problems prevented Francis from reaching his potential.
After retiring from a basketball career that included a short stint in China, Francis dove head first into the business world, opening a construction company, becoming a boxing promoter, running a barbershop, and starting the We R One clothing line with a few other NBA players. Problems, however, still followed Francis. In 2016, Francis was arrested on burglary charges and in 2018 he was arrested for public intoxication.
Micheal Ray Richardson: Camp Coach
The fourth overall pick in the 1978 draft, Micheal Ray Richardson was billed as a point guard of the future, a hybrid player who could dish the ball, drive to the hole, and dunk with ease. He was tall, fluid, and possessed a skill set not yet seen before in the NBA. Richardson was living up to the hype that surrounded him when he left the University of Montana.
But drugs got in the way, and after his third violation of the NBA’s drug policy, commissioner David Stern banned him for life. Richardson was eventually reinstated but opted to stay in Europe. He never stepped on an NBA court again. After retiring from overseas basketball, Richardson got into coaching, working with teams up in Canada and helping run a summer camp with Otis Birdsong.
Hakeem Olajuwon: Dream House, Dream Shake
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is one of the greatest players in NBA history. The two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP is the NBA’s all-time leader in blocked shots and is one of only four players to record a quadruple-double. In 1996, Olajuwon added to his trophy case by helping Team USA win Olympic gold in basketball.
After retiring from basketball, Olajuwon and his hot hand turned to real estate. Olajuwon, who only buys in cash because it’s against his faith to pay interest, has earned well over $100 million, a figure that easily surpasses his basketball career earnings. The secret to the mogul’s success? Great timing, studying maps, understanding the market, and taking to heart the classic real estate adage “location, location, location.”
Maceo Baston: King of the Cupcake
The NBA career of Maceo Baston is hardly memorable. Most people have never heard of him, and those who have hardly saw him. He played in a total of 105 NBA games. The power forward was not able to find his footing in the NBA and instead turned towards European leagues where he thrived. In 2011, Baston shut down his basketball career, but as one door closed, another opened.
That new door would be in the form of an oven’s. Baston and his wife opened up Taste Love Cupcakes in Royal Oak, Michigan, and the business took off. Baston and Co. competed on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, winning the show’s top prize of $10,000. When he’s not baking or tasting, Baston is mentoring his son on the basketball court.
Junior Bridgeman: Fast Food Fiend
His number has been retired by the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s beloved by passionate Louisville Cardinals fans, and he’s one of the most successful entrepreneurs in NBA history. Bridgeman was a reliable sixth man who put up a healthy 13.6 PPG over his 12-year NBA career. Yet it wasn’t until Bridgeman retried from basketball that his career and earnings really exploded.
Bridgeman initially franchised a few Wendy’s locations in the Midwest, and year after year he built up his portfolio of brands. That portfolio blossomed into Bridgeman Foods, a network that includes more than 450 franchises such as Wendy’s, Chili’s, and Blaze Pizza. Estimates have his net worth around $400 million.
Chris Washburn: Famous Fried Chicken
Controversy and trouble have followed Chris Washburn like white on rice. Washburn entered North Carolina State University as a highly-touted recruit, but his stardom was soon overshadowed as details leaked out about Washburn’s unbelievably low SAT scores. Then more details emerged about a scandal involving Washburn’s teachers that altered his grades so he could remain eligible to play.
Despite these controversies, Golden State elected to take Washburn third overall in the 1986 draft, and 72 games later, he was out of the league. Washburn failed three drug tests in three years, earning a lifetime ban from the NBA. After ball, Washburn, who battled drug addictions, got sober and opened up Washburn’s Wings and More. The fried chicken business seemed like a great way to turn things around, but like many other restaurant ventures, it closed down early in its existence.
Evan Eschmeyer: Busy With Business
Ever heard of him? If you answered no, that’s ok, because the vast majority of basketball fans haven’t either. Evan appeared in 153 games averaging a meager 2.8 points and 3.9 rebounds. Those numbers, along with chronic knee problems, forced Evan to retire from basketball early.
Fortunately for him, he had a backup plan, and the Northwestern graduate went back to school at Northwestern. Eschmeyer completed a three-year business and law degree program and used those skills to campaign for President Obama, work at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and become the CFO at Atlas Tower Companies in Boulder, Colorado.
Greg Oden: Assistant Coach
The Trail Blazers do not have a good track record when it comes to the NBA Draft. In 2007, Portland selected Ohio State center Greg Oden first overall, one pick ahead of Kevin Durant. If you haven’t already heard the Oden story, it’s short and sad. Injuries derailed a promising career before it ever began. Oden was billed as the center of the future.
What he turned out to be was one of the greatest draft busts ever. After 105 games, Oden’s career was over. Then he went back to the place where it all began: Ohio State. Oden enrolled at OSU as a student to finish his degree. He also volunteered his time with the basketball program, giving back to the team that helped propel him into the national spotlight.
Tom Chambers: Soaking up the Sun
Tom Chambers is one of only two players to score 20,000 points and not be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The puzzling Chambers was an enigma, a scoring machine with a standoffish personality. Many believe it was Chambers’ personality, not his stats, that have kept him out of the Hall. Chambers was a four-time All-Star and had his number retired by the Suns.
In 1993, Chambers and the Suns lost to Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the NBA Finals. It was his only appearance. Chambers, a Colorado native, has made Arizona his full-time residence and has worked for the Suns in multiple capacities from broadcaster to community relations representative.
Jonathan Bender: Medical Device Mogul
The fifth pick in the 1999 draft, Jonathan Bender made the leap to the NBA straight out of high school. Hyped up as an athletic 7-footer, Bender was never able to translate his success in high school to the NBA. Although he lasted eight years in the league, more than other busts, many would still consider Bender to be one of the biggest draft busts ever.
Injuries played no small part in Bender’s career being cut short, and after being forced to retire from the game, Bender set out to alleviate his pain and come up with a solution for other athletes. The JBIT MedPro, otherwise known as JB Intensive Trainer, was born. Backed by science, Bender and his knee-pain-alleviating medical device are hopefully improving physical therapy, rehab, and training regimens while saving people thousands in doctors visits and surgeries.
David Harrison: McDonald’s Man
David Harrison was a McDonald’s All-American in high school before starring for the Colorado Buffaloes. After Colorado, Harrison jumped to the NBA, playing there for four seasons before personal issues, pot smoking problems, and a lack of minutes contributed to his eventual NBA exit. He bounced around China before coming back to America. Without a degree or the opportunity to play in the NBA, Harrison was forced to take a job at McDonald’s. Two weeks into that endeavor, Harrison quit.
He couldn’t take the constant questions and stares. Today, he trades stocks and remains optimistic about his future, even if that future has nothing to do with basketball. “I am confident in myself and I have the ability to succeed,” Harrison told Yahoo. “I don’t have much hope to play basketball again. But to support my family and myself, I have a lot of hope in that.”