Latrell Sprewell fell victim to what a lot of young athletes do, and that is greed. Sprewell was a star in his 13 years in the NBA, putting up a career average of 18 points per game, including 23 ppg in 1993 for the Golden State Warriors.
However, it was towards the end of his time with Golden State that his screw loose mentality began to surface. He began to fight with teammates regularly and was suspended 68 games in 1997 for choking head coach PJ Carlisemo at training, which ended his spell with the Warriors.
He played in New York and Minnesota before his career abruptly came to an end in 2005, when he refused a $21 million contract extension from the Timberwolves, stating that he “had kids to feed”. Despite numerous other contract offers from other teams around the league, none were deemed acceptable and he never played again.
Since then, he has made news for grounding his million-dollar yacht (which was later repossessed), having two homes foreclosed on, and has ironically had visitation rights for his children stripped from him.
Kwame Brown is one of the most infamous NBA players of all-time. He was considered to be easily the best prospect in the 2001 NBA Draft, even though he was going straight from high school to the pros and still in his teenage years.
However, it turns out that college was exactly what Kwame needed. Just 19 when he entered the league, he never showed the kind of basketball or life experience required to survive in such a cutthroat league. He was simply too young to be a professional basketball player.
Combine this with being drafted to the Washington Wizards by none other than Michael Jordan, the greatest basketballer of all-time, Jordan’s well-renowned ferociousness with his players destroyed whatever confidence Kwame had.
After being traded in 2005, he has since played for the Lakers, Memphis, Detroit, Charlotte, Golden State, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, averaging double-digits in ppg only once.
With Boston in the mid 90s to early 2000s, Antoine Walker was a star in the league. He averaged 17.5 ppg and 9 rebounds per game in his rookie year, and almost every year since he eclipsed that, until 2005, when his life started to fall apart.
His gambling problems, relationship troubles and slowly ballooning waist started to get the better of him, and as his outside influences began to go up, his production on the court began to go down.
It all fell apart so quickly that after short stints with the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves, in 2008, he was out of the league completely. In 2010 he filed for bankruptcy.
Whilst it is first and foremost important that Walker gets his life back on track, it is sad to think of how good he could’ve been had he kept his beastly production up for a few more years.
Jason Williams shares a similar story to other wasted talents that Australians may be more familiar with, such as Quade Cooper and Benji Marshall. For Williams, it was not off-court issues that got the better of him, but his inability to improve his game.
Coming from a streetball background, ‘White Chocolate’ was one of the more exciting players to watch in the league. His flashy passes and downright ridiculous dribble moves were said to even draw applause form opposition fans.
But this electrifying style of play produced a lot of turnovers, and Williams did not have the perfect focus required to be an NBA point guard. Whilst he spent most of his career as a starter, his coaches would frequently pull him off the court down the stretch of close games, for fear that he’d commit a game-breaking mistake.
Williams’ inability to improve or cut the turnovers out of his game means that he was more suited to the Harlem Globetrotters than an NBA Championship team, which is a pity considering the prodigious talent he possessed.
As already seen in this article, off-court issues can easily kill of a promising sporting career. The other main cause of this is “coachability”, or lack thereof. Steve Francis had this in spades – or didn’t, depending how you look at it.
This started from the moment he was drafted – Francis was taken second overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, and immediately refused to play for them. After some back and forth, he was traded to the Houston Rockets.
All through his career with Houston, Orlando and New York, he continually clashed with coaches that would not let him play “his game”. Perhaps someone forgot to tell Steve ‘Franchise’ that basketball is a team sport.
As the story usually ends, Francis’ career began in the 2000 season and despite being incredibly talented and athletic, he did not even make the next decade in the league. His career ended in 2010 with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Stephon Marbury became a professional basketball player for one reason and one reason only – to make money – and boy did he make a lot of it.
Over his NBA career, he made $151 million in contracts alone, and maybe five times that in endorsements and sneaker deals.
However, when it came to actually playing the sport he was being paid to play, he was productive, with career averages of 19 ppg and 7 assists per game, but commonly fought with team mates and coaches, and refused to come off the bench, exemplified by five NBA throughout his career.
Had he managed to stay in one place for more than five years – which he didn’t – he may have built a career for himself that is worthy of repute. He didn’t though.
However, his new sneaker is coming out in July, if anyone actually cares.