Imagine walking into class on the first day of the semester and finding a famous NBA player sitting next to you. Depending on where you go to school, it might be happening more and more.
In 2009, 10 percent of the NBA attended college in the off-season. A long lockout might boost attendance even further as players go back to finish their college degrees.
The One and Done Rule
The NBA requires that all players must be at least 19 and be one year out of high school. For many players, this means attending college for one year and then dropping out to play in the NBA.
That’s not a bad deal, considering the league-average in 2011 was $4.79 million. Still, with an estimated 60 percent of all NBA players ending up broke within five years of retiring from the league, it’s no wonder that the players who never received college degrees might want to get one.
How Do NBA Players Go Back to College?
Russell Westbrook, a guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been attending classes at UCLA during the off-season. Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets resumed his studies at Wake Forest, where he played before he left for the NBA. Kevin Durant is finishing up a degree at Texas.
These players all attend classes in the off-season, but there are other ways to get a degree. Shaquille O’Neal earned both a bachelor’s degree and an MBA through distance learning at LSU and online at the University of Phoenix. He did both while playing in the NBA.
What Do Ex-NBA Players Do After Basketball?
There are plenty of options for former NBA players. Many will continue to work in industries related to the sport; some will coach or find a niche in broadcasting. Few make the jump to team ownership, which might become more common in the future. Others go on to public speaking and business.
Still, it’s important to note that many players are not ready to deal with the sudden change in lifestyle that accompanies retiring. Bad investments, failure to manage finances, or simply spending too much money can spell disaster for many ex-NBA players. It’s a sad and unfortunately real problem for many former players.
To combat this reality, many players are taking steps to make sure they have a good plan after the NBA. They are going back to get their degrees just like their non-basketball-playing peers did. This supports the idea that education is the key to lifelong success. Whether you’re an NBA star or just a regular Joe, a college education can be an important factor in your future financial success.
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