If you find yourself in a Black-owned barber shop, there is a high chance that sports talk is always on the agenda. And when it comes to basketball, in particular, people can’t get enough of deciding who the GOAT is — Lebron James or Michael Jordan? However, what about the game legends like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?
Players like Abdul-Jabbar laid the foundation for the more recent past and present players the world knows and loves. With a 20-year career average of 24.6 points, 3.6 assists, and 11.2 rebounds per game, many find it difficult to dispute the impact Abdul-Jabbar had on the game.
In 1969, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was chosen as the No. 1 draft pick from UCLA to the Milwaukee Bucks. He stayed with that team for six seasons and led the franchise to its first NBA championship in 1971.
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After his time in Milwaukee, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1975 and continued to dominate the game. By the end of his 14 seasons with the Lakers, the NBA legend earned numerous accolades, including being named a two-time Finals MVP, six-time league MVP, and currently still holds the title as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.
After 20 noteworthy NBA seasons, Abdul-Jabbar found himself at the center of culture as a best-selling author, former assistant coach, cultural ambassador appointee, and outspoken activist. However, with all of these highs came a massive blow that damaged his work.
Like many other celebrities, Abdul-Jabbar put his trust in a business manager that ultimately did not have his best interest at heart. According to a Sports Illustrated report, the bad deals his former business manager arranged ate up the wealth he gained throughout his career, leaving Abdul-Jabbar scrambling to figure out how he ended up in a financial pit.
Not New To Financial Woes
Although Abdul-Jabbar had amassed millions of dollars as an athlete, his 40th birthday was a financial turning point.
According to the previously mentioned Sports Illustrated report, he lost his multi-million-dollar Bel Air mansion in a fire and went through a messy divorce that gave much of his earnings to his ex-wife. Compounding on his marital woes, bad investments, and a lack of oversight of his finances led him to hire a team of lawyers who worked hard to recover what he lost.
Abdul-Jabbar’s team found that much of his financial stress was caused by the mismanagement of his business manager, Tom Collins. As a result, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar filed a lawsuit for about $59 million.
“Last year they filed a lawsuit against Abdul-Jabbar’s former business manager, Tom Collins, and others to recover damages alleged to total no less than $59 million,” Sports Illustrated reported in 1987.
The Collins Era
During his fifth season with the Lakers in 1980, Abdul-Jabbar lost his original business manager due to cancer. Earning $1 million per season at that time, the NBA icon reached out to Collins to help him manage his money and investments.
Between 1984 and 1985, Collins arranged several partnerships among all his clients. Based on court documents from the original suit, one of the investments was in Heavyrope, a weighted jump rope produced in Michigan. For this, Collins put $230,000 of Abdul-Jabbar’s money into the brand, leading the NBA legend to believe he would have ownership rights in the company.
Although the business relationship started well, Collins began to ghost Abdul-Jabbar about his finances and investment deals after some time together.
Due to this lack of communication, Abdul-Jabbar ordered an independent audit and found that he was responsible for a $9 million debt from a bad real estate deal in 1984. Sports Illustrated reported that he was also liable for about $1.6 million from other investments. Abdul-Jabbar contended that Collins made these financial decisions without fully engaging him on the associated risks.
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The Recuperation Of It All
Once Abdul-Jabbar learned about his former business manager’s behavior, he wanted out of every deal Collins set up for him. However, Collins alleged that all the investments with Abdul-Jabbar were suitable and only went sour when the former Los Angeles Laker pulled out of the deals.
Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t be convinced otherwise and proceeded with the lawsuit. During litigation, Abdul-Jabbar discovered that Collins never had any training or experience as a financial advisor, a critical oversight the NBA legend regrets.
Learning from his time with Collins as his business manager, Abdul-Jabbar took a more significant role in his financial affairs and is now actively involved in investments and deals.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Net Worth
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has an estimated $20 million net worth after rebuilding what he lost.
Editorial note: The net worth listed in this piece is a speculative estimate drawn from a variety of online sources.