The Wildest First Big Purchases By NBA Players

America loves a rags to riches story. One of the appeals of sports, other than watching athletes compete on a high-level, is seeing them enjoy the perks of becoming a professional athlete. In the NBA, this means fans get to live vicariously through hoop stars who use their multimillion-dollar contracts to splash out cash on high-end cars, houses, technology, and more.

One of the most enjoyable moments for a basketball player is when they receive their first paycheck. They worked their whole lives to get to where they are, and some instantly make their dream purchases once they get a taste of making money in the NBA. And kudos to them, they earned it. But not all NBA players splurge the minute they get their first check. LeBron James, who grew up underprivileged in Akron, Ohio, only took $2,000 out of his first multimillion-dollar check at 18-years-old and "[took] his closest friend to an amusement park," James' former public relations manager Chris Dennis told ESPN. The similarly frugal, three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson went with a pool table for his first purchase, which is quite tame in comparison to his counterparts.

So no, not every NBA star indulges in a wild spending spree the minute they see multiple zeros and commas on their first check. But some definitely do.  Here's a list of those ballers who balled out with some wild purchases after they finally saw their hard work payoff, literally.

Gilbert Arenas's wild spending spree left him on a budget

Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas is best known for his heyday with the Washington Wizards (2003-2010). Before he became known as "Agent Zero," he dug himself a hole, financially, having gone almost completely broke prior to officially signing his rookie contract with the Golden State Warriors. 

In 2019, Arenas told Bleacher Report he bet on himself ahead of the 2001 NBA Draft. Anticipating how much money he would make as a first round draft pick, he took out a loan and went on a shopping spree, buying a $40,000 chain with his initials and a Cadillac Escalade with five TVs and a $60,000 stereo system. Arenas, unexpectedly, was not selected until the second round. This meant his $330,000 rookie deal, before taxes, was substantially fewer dollars than he anticipated. "I got so mad that I threw the chain I bought out the window," Arenas told the outlet. As a result, he had to live on a $400 a month budget through his first two NBA seasons. "Try going on a date in the middle of the month with $100 left," he lamented. The at-times strange athlete added, "I got gas, I had two dogs and a girlfriend at the time. There was no date night. It was horrible."

He certainly learned how to be a baller on a budget before inking his $111 million deal in 2008. 

Miles Bridges dropped 90 grand on jewelry to fit in

Miles Bridges entered the 2018 NBA Draft and was eventually swooped up by the Charlotte Hornets. The former Michigan State Spartan told GQ the Hornets brought in former NBA players and financial specialists to teach incoming players the importance of managing their money. With that in mind, Bridges, then expecting a child, prioritized using his first NBA paycheck to buy himself a sensible, family-friendly new car — a $100,000 Range Rover. He also realized his dream of buying his mother a house, with a relatively modest price tag of $200,000. But before that, his first purchase was to make sure he fit in with the rest of his teammates. 

What was the item that made him fit in? A $30,000 gold presidential Rolex. Admittedly, the 2020 Rising Stars MVP was not into jewelry, but he told GQ "Everybody said, 'Once you get to the NBA, you have to get some type of watch just so you could look professional.'" The jewelry collection didn't stop there, he decided to buy three custom chains that were personal to him. One with an "Ace" symbol for his son's name, the second read RTB for "real trench baby" and his third, "a gorilla chain" for his "favorite type of animal." The three chains cost him a grand total of $60,000 that he stacked on top of his $30,000 Rolex. 


No kitten, Ben Simmons spent $10,000 on exotic pets

Ben Simmons, the NBA's first overall draft pick in 2016, wildly spent some of his first NBA contract on two pets. The Australian native told Cold As Balls he likes wild animals, so he decided to buy two Savannah cats. It turned out to be a purchase Simmons told Kneading Dough he regretted.

The 2017-18 KIA NBA Rookie of the Year first purchased a female Savannah cat for $4,000. Afterwards, Simmons told his half-brother Sean Tribe, "'[She] needs a friend. We need to give it a friend," Tribe recited to The Undefeated. The second Savannah cat was a male that cost $6,000 and had a third generation ancestor that was an African serval cat. "They got crazy," Simmons said, adding, "I got scratched a couple times, but nothing crazy. My brother had more problems than me." Tribe told the outlet the male cat was "like a wild animal," and further recalled, "You give the cat a bowl of fruit and it's clawing at your hand when you put the fruit down." They both admitted the female cat was well behaved until the second one showed up. Ultimately, Simmons decided to send both cats back and chalked it up as "a bad purchase."

It's a shame Simmons' Savannah pet pals didn't workout. The wildlife animal lover was invested in getting the best Savannah cats money can buy.

Harrison Barnes hooked himself up with luxury ZZZZs

Harrison "The Black Falcon" Barnes joined the NBA in 2012 as a member of the Golden State Warriors. When he saw his first paycheck from the league, he pursued a childhood dream.

Barnes told CNBC Make It, "For me, growing up, really having a nice bed was something that I always wanted." From his first NBA payday, he noticed his shopping experience was completely different, explaining to the outlet, he was used to "buying the cheapest thing possible." When he signed a multi-million dollar contract, he went into shopping with a different outlook. "You have the ability and are fortunate enough to be able to choose whatever you want," Barnes said. With that in mind, going mattress shopping was "like Christmas" for Barnes as he laid down on every bed in the store, telling himself, "I'm going to choose the bed I want to sleep on."

The 2012-13 NBA All-Rookie First Team selection claims he chose "one of the nicer" beds. What a joy that had to be for a kid who once limited his furniture options due to his financial circumstances and, in turn, as an adult he could walk into a store knowing he can buy whatever bed he wanted with money not an object.

Shaquille O'Neal went wild at a Mercedes dealer

NBA Hall of Fame member Shaquille O'Neal earned his first $1 million paycheck off an endorsement deal. The deal came right before the 1992 NBA Draft where The Diesel became the top selection.

The "(I Know I Got) Skillz" rapper told In Depth with Graham Bensinger he spent his first $1 million in one day. He dropped $150,000 on a black Mercedes-Benz, as O'Neal told Bensinger, "That's what I always wanted. A black Mercedes with some nice wheels." When he came home to show his parents, his father was impressed, but wondered where was his ride? "I was like, 'You what, you made me who I am, jump in,'" O'Neal recalled. The Kazaam actor then brought his father an identical Mercedes and, eventually, bought his mother "a little" Mercedes, bringing his car expenses up to $500,000. The Big Aristotle explained that after buying jewelry, clothes, a pager, and a phone to prepare for the NBA draft, not to mention the taxes and other hits that brought his $1 million check down to a net of "maybe like $600,000," he received a call the next morning from a family friend, who also happened to be his banker. O'Neal was in the red by $80,000.

TNT's Inside the NBA analyst had more money coming once he signed his rookie deal, so the debt was short-lived. What lasted, however, was the memory of spending his first million dollars and his status as a millionaire.

Andre Iguodala dropped four figures for kicks

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, went on a shopping spree when he saw his first glimpse of big money from his basketball career. The former Arizona Wildcat entered the NBA after the 2004 Draft. He explained to Wealthsimple Magazine that before he was drafted, he got "an advance for trading cards and an advance for a shoe contract." 

With some of the proceeds from a $25,000 loan check borrowed against those advances, Iguodala said he "went to Niketown and bought a whole bunch of pairs of Jordans." As a middle school student, he worked during the summers as a camp counselor, making $10 to $11 an hour, so when he saw the five figure check he "didn't know how to spend money" and added, "It was so early that there wasn't enough money to go buy a car." Instead, Iguodala had a ball and "spent like two or three grand" on sneakers, which he said "felt like [he] spent a million dollars."

The 2004-05 NBA All-Rookie First Team selection has since multiplied his earnings in the NBA, racking up nearly $170 million from 2004 to 2020 from his NBA salary alone. Forbes also credits Iguodala for making savvy investments in the tech world, with stakes in companies including Zoom and Jumia. He certainly learned how to spend his money wisely, and will always have the memory of beginning his collection of kicks the minute he realized his life changed.

Tyler Herro bought two cars plus a Gucci purse for mom

Miami Heat's rookie sensation during the 2019-20 NBA season, Tyler Herro, wasted no time checking off his wish list. The former Kentucky Wildcat went on a spending spree under year one of his first NBA contract where he was set to earn $3.64 million, according to WKYT.

The 2019-20 NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection told GQ that purchasing a $5,000 Gucci purse for his mother was his top priority. Next, he purchased two cars for himself. His first ride was a $200,000 S Class 63 AMG 2020 Mercedes, which he hooked up with black rims and tinted windows — an extra $300 well spent. The second car he added to his collection was a Jeep Wrangler that cost $60,000. Among other spending items on his contract's dime was a collection of custom paintings to hang around his home. This tallied up to $10,000, which included a special $4,000 portrait of himself playing basketball at middle school, high school, college, and with the NBA's Heat.

Herro didn't hold back from enjoying a perk that comes along with playing professional basketball as he told GQ he used to talk to his friends in high school and college about this moment. "If I ever make it to the NBA I would probably, like, get a car," he noted, adding, "That's the dream, to be able to make a lot of money doing something you love." Dreams do come true.

Draymond Green had a five figure night out at the club

Three-time NBA Champion Draymond Green signed a four-year contract extension worth $100 million in 2019. Before that big payday, there was a time in 2012 when Green's then-biggest payday was an $850,000 rookie contract. In 2018, the Saginaw, Mich. native told Kneading Dough, "To make $850,000, you're still in the top what, one percent of America?" He also admitted he "didn't hire a financial adviser" his rookie season, which was exactly when he had a night of reckless spending that he regrets to this day.

The 2017 NBA Defensive Player of the Year explained to Kneading Dough that he was maxing during a night on the town at a nightclub. He said he "woke up the next day hot," realizing he ran up a tab of $21,000. "I had a blast for sure [but] I could've had a blast for $4,000 though," Green laughed. Although Green has certainly made enemies in the league, we're guessing he had nothing but friends that night. Still, even for someone in the one percent, the reckless spending was still painful as Green added, "They say, 'Oh, that ain't nothing to you.' $20,000 is still $20,000. I don't care how much money you have." 

Green has definitely rebounded since that night out but still laments, "I remember that bill, I remember everything like it was yesterday."

Dwyane Wade pimped out an Escalade

Retired three-time NBA Champion and Olympic gold medalist Dwyane Wade signed his first NBA contract with the Miami Heat in 2003. Hailing from the south side of Chicago to becoming a millionaire overnight was a life changing day for the man who would become a 13-time NBA All-Star.

Wade celebrated the momentous achievement by purchasing an "electric blue" Escalade with his first NBA paycheck. He had his eye on this truck ever since he played college basketball at Marquette University. "I seen someone driving it down the streets of Milwaukee," Wade told Men's Health in 2020, adding, "I was like, 'When I get some money, I'm going to go get me one of those.'" Following up on the promise he made to himself, he did just that, buying upgraded 26-inch rims and spinners on his ride. When it was all said and done, it looked like something out of MTV's Pimp My Ride. The athlete formerly known as The Flash revealed his wheels were inspired by Three 6 Mafia's hit-song "Ridin Spinners." 

The "ridin' spinners" era may have been a fad but at least Wade was able to partake in the activity that was a dream to many in early 2000s pop culture.

Trae Young's first big splurge got pranked on hard

In 2018, the Atlanta Hawks acquired then-19-year-old prospect Trae Young. According to Bleacher Report, Young inked a three-year deal for about $15 million. Naturally, the NBA baller splurged on his first payday.

The NBA point guard took to Instagram how he spent his money on a brand new Audi R8. Young captioned the video, "My First Purchased Car for myself is here!!! My parents Surprised me with it ... #Blessed!!" TMZ reported the matted-out ride typically costs $138,000, but with all the detailed hook-ups, Young's ride more than likely spilled over $200,000. After a freshman campaign at the University of Oklahoma where he became the first NCAA basketball Division-I athlete to lead the division in points and assists totaled, he awarded himself for a job well done.

It was a reward his teammates attacked during a rookie prank where they filled up his luxurious ride with popcorn, but nonetheless, a purchase he'll never forget after years of being successful on the basketball court led him to the NBA.

Ja Morant gifted his parents new wheels

Ja Morant was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in the summer of 2019 and voted the NBA Rookie of the Year by the end of the 2019-20 season. In 2020, NBA players faced the threat their salaries would be reduced by 25 percent due to financial woes the league faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this did not stop the former Murray State Racers standout from buying his parents a new ride under his rookie contract.

While Ja was in the NBA bubble in the summer of 2020, he had his parents cars arrive at their doorstep. In July 2020, Ja gifted his father, Tee Morant, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. On a video where Tee walked out to see his new ride, Ja captioned, "for you OG" and "appreciate you my guy." TMZ estimated the sports car cost somewhere between $30,000 to $70,000 and speeds up from 0 to 60 miles per hours in 3.6 seconds, which is probably why Ja also wrote, "go cut up in traffic." A few weeks later, another video emerged in which his mother, Jamie Morant, started dancing once she saw an Audi A8 L show up at her doorstep. On the social media video that captured his mom's reaction, Ja wrote, "got you dat car you wanted" and "i love you my queen."

It's always nice to see a kid reward the two parents that shaped him into who he is today.

Amar'e Stoudemire hooked his family up big time

Former NBA player and six-time NBA All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2002. The then-prospect entered the NBA Draft straight out of high school and received his first NBA paycheck at age 19.

The power forward nicknamed STAT (Standing Tall and Talented) told Wealthsimple Magazine that he signed a two-year deal with the Suns for a total of $3.5 million with his first paycheck out of the deal worth $300,000. "I thought, 'Man, this is like the Richie Rich movie. You wake up and now you're rich,'" he noted. Stoudemire went on a shopping spree buying himself a truck, jewelry, and clothes. He also took his brother shopping, and splurged on a new home for his mother. It was that instance where Stoudemire realized how special that moment was, telling the magazine, "When you see tears in your mother's eyes and the joy in your brother's face? Those moments only come once in a lifetime."