Latrell Sprewell Declined A $21M NBA Contract, Saying He Had 'Family To Feed' And Never Played Again — But Here's How It Turned Out For Him
Photo Credit: Allen Berezovsky

Latrell Sprewell Declined A $21M NBA Contract, Saying He Had 'Family To Feed' And Never Played Again — But Here's How It Turned Out For Him

Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck” took on a new meaning for former NBA star Latrell Sprewell. With a career that had him labeled as one of the league’s bad boys, Sprewell’s on and off-court moves were ones for the record books.

Latrell Sprewell was born on Sept. 8, 1970, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After playing high school basketball, he played with Three Rivers Community College for two years. After his community college career, he went to play for two years with the University of Alabama. In 1992, the Golden State Warriors selected him as the No. 24 draft pick.

In the early part of his career, Sprewell worked hard on his skills and eventually became the leading scorer for the Western Conference All-Star team from 1994-1997. However, his personal antics would begin to overshadow his athletic ability.

Regardless of this, Sprewell would remain one of the most touted NBA players in the league. At the end of his career, he averaged 18.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and four assists. And because of these numbers, teams were still interested in him being a part of their teams.

Toward the final years of his career, Sprewell was offered a three-year $21 million contract. He turned it down, and life was never quite the same.

A Career Worth Talking About

After being drafted by the Golden State Warriors and spending six seasons on the west coast, Sprewell’s career landed him in New York as a member of the Knicks franchise. There he remained an athletic force helping the team make it to the NBA finals the first season he was with them.

He would eventually play a total of four seasons with the Knicks. After his time in New York, Sprewell was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a four-player deal in 2003. He was considered the pivotal part of their big three, along with Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell.

Despite his fascinating history, the Timberwolves were excited to have him as a part of the squad.

“Latrell gives us a very athletic swing player, something that we have said since the end of last season that we needed,” Timberwolves, former Vice President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Kevin McHale, said of the trade. “He will give us a tremendous defensive effort every time he steps on the court. He has played in a number of big games and has not been afraid to take big shots over his career.”

Pride Comes Before A Fall

After his initial season in Minnesota, Sprewell put on a solid performance as a league veteran. The team went on to play in the Western Conference Finals that year but lost to the then dynamic duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Because of his solid performance on the court, the Timberwolves offered him a contract extension worth $21 million, but Sprewell turned it down, saying, “I have a family to feed.”

After the terms of his original contract at the close of the 2004-2005 season, Sprewell was preparing to leave Minnesota after declining their offer. His final season with the Timberwolves also showed a decline in his performance, with career-low averages of 12.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game.

Despite declining numbers, several other teams were willing to take a bet on Sprewell in 2005. However, he refused all offers. According to Sports Rush, his agent, Bob Gist, had a plan to wait until teams got desperate during the trade season and plan to sign with a team before the deadline in February of that year. It’s alleged that Gist made it clear that Sprewell was not interested in any deal that included a team’s “$5 million mid-level exception.”

Gist described that type of offer as “a level beneath which [Sprewell] would not stoop or kneel!”

The Fate Revealed

Since Sprewell declined the original extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves and all other offers because it was allegedly beneath him, the 2004-2005 season was not only his last in Minnesota but also his last season of playing in the NBA.

From that point, things started to go downhill for the NBA legend. According to the New York Times, Latrell Sprewell was sued for $200 million.

From there, Sprewell was forced to sell his yacht to help pay off the $1.3 million he owed on the boat, according to court filings. Per an ESPN report, his home was also foreclosed because of failed payments from September 2007 to January 2008.

Today, Sprewell is worth $150,000 per Celebrity Net Worth.

Nevertheless, that’s not how the story ends. Sprewell is living out a season of redemption. According to his Instagram bio, he is doing community relations work with his former team, the New York Knicks. The 51-year-old also works as a media personality for Madison Square Garden.