The NBA should take more responsibility for professional basketball players' financial stability.
NBA draft picks sign for incredible amounts of money. In 2016, first-round draft pick Ben Simmons signed for more than $12 million, according to Spotrac. Second-round draft pick Tyler Ulis signed for $4 million. With numbers like these, players often do not foresee serious financial problems.
Unfortunately, 60 percent of NBA players file for bankruptcy within their first five years of retirement, according to Bleacher Report.
Former NBA superstar Darius Miles is a recent addition to this statistic.
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In 2000, Miles was the LA Clippers’ first-round draft pick, signing a $9 million contract, reported Belleville News-Democrat.
During his nine years in the NBA, Miles earned $62 million, according to New York Daily News. He also starred in a movie with Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson and received endorsements from Michael Jordan.
Despite all his success, 2016 saw Miles filing for bankruptcy. His list of debts includes a $282,041 IRS payment, $20,000 in child support and $100,000 lost in a California real estate venture.
Miles is not alone in his fiscal struggles. Charles Barkley, Eddy Curry and Kenny Anderson are just a few of the basketball legends topping Bleacher Report’s list of financially irresponsible NBA players.
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Given the number of NBA stars who qualify for this list, however, it is hard to believe that basketball players are naturally financially irresponsible. Rather, the trend implies that the NBA is detrimental to players’ ability to manage their finances.
The NBA needs to do more.
To start, the NBA could raise the minimum age requirement for draft picks. In 2006, the players had to be 19 years old before entering the draft, according to U.S. News. League Commissioner Adam Silver has expressed desire to raise the minimum age to 20.
By raising the minimum age, the NBA encourages its players to attend college for some time before entering the world of professional sports.
“It’s difficult for players, especially those who didn’t go to college, to be prepared to understand the business side of what they do,” said former NBA players’ union vice president Adonal Foyle.
“College gives you a chance to figure out what you are interested in. My parents asked me when I was still playing what I wanted to do after this was over, and it got me thinking about it,” Foyle added.
Foyle says players need to think about life beyond the NBA. Athletes cannot maintain peak physical condition for their entire lives. Players need to be prepared to handle finances and continue to make money after their time in the NBA is finished.
Furthermore, athletes constantly risk injury. These injuries could put professional athletes out of work at a moment’s notice. Athletes need to have other knowledge or skills to use in these instances.
Since 1986, the NBA has required new players to go through a Rookie Transition Program. This program is designed to prepare players for anything they may encounter during their time as professional basketball players, according to the NBA’s website.
Though the program includes a financial component, more instruction is necessary.
The NBA has a duty to ensure its players have the knowledge and the tools to remain financially stable throughout their lives. If the NBA can take over a significant portion of an athlete’s life, the league needs to help its players achieve success later in life as well.
Education and instructional programming are just two ways the NBA can help its players.