Gilbert Arenas was homeless as a rookie and slept at the arena despite earning $330,000 after taking out huge loans before being drafted
Reaching the NBA is every young basketball player’s dream. It takes a lot to become one of the league’s drafted players, with just 60 spots in the draft each season. Making the league too, money and fame, involves a lot of things, all of which can end up fulfilling players’ dreams, but can sometimes also lead them down the wrong path.
When players make it through high school and college, some do well enough to be certain of a spot in the NBA. This means that there have been stars who have spent some of their money before they even got it. Gilbert Arenas’ story is one such, the All-Star known for his explosive scoring over the Wizards in the 2000s once found himself “essentially homeless” despite coming to the league.
Gilbert Arenas was picked in the 2nd round of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, meaning his first NBA contract was worth less than $1 million over 2 years. This got him in some trouble, thanks to some pre-project loans he had taken out. And as a rookie, Arenas made just over $330,000who left quite quickly, as he explained to Bleacher Report.
“What happened was,” he begins. It was 2001 and Arenas was expected 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 to the real world. He therefore borrowed a loan while waiting for a first round of payday. Then, he says, “I bought my stereo, bought my Escalade with the five TVs and the stereo.” The audio equipment alone cost around $60,000. The chain, which bore Arenas’ initials, cost an additional $40,000. The night of the draft has come. Arenas fell to the Warriors 31st in a 30-team league.
“When I turned 31,” Arenas says, “I was so mad that I threw the chain I bought out the window; it was gone.” Arenas’ second-round salary was around $330,000, which was basically spent by the time he showed up at Golden State. During his first two years in the league, Arenas’ budget was $400 a month.
“Imagine trying to be an NBA player for $400 a month,” he says. He rented a small house and took as much food as he could on the team plane. “Try going on a date in the middle of the month with $100 left over. I got gas, I had two dogs and a girlfriend at the time. There was no date “You in love! It was horrible.”
I couldn’t even make the round trip for [Oracle Arena], so sometimes I had to stay at the arena. I slept in the arena. I was basically homeless, but I just couldn’t afford to buy gas all the time.”
Arenas ended up becoming quite a controversial figure throughout his career, so it’s no surprise to hear that he had some early issues when he first came to the league. Ultimately, the story is a great example for younger players not to overplay their hands and only spend money on luxuries after securing the bag. Arenas may have gone well, but that doesn’t guarantee the next player won’t have a hard time.