Instant wealth can be both a blessing and a curse. Depending on how you use it, it can change peoples' lives for better or worse.
For NBA players, the sudden influx of money is the biggest challenge when transitioning into the pros. The lifestyle change becomes inevitable; some guys manage it well, others get lost in the process.
For the latter, there's a common denominator -- most of them become the victims of their inner circles.
Gary Payton's entourage
"You're not going to abandon your homeboys because you've made it," Baron Davis said via Sports Illustrated. "Let me get this straight: I'm in the NBA and making money, so I'm supposed to start kicking it at Yale and Harvard with Poindexter and Pender-puss? Nuh-uh. That's not me."
Most guys, especially those who came from nothing, feel the same way. They want to use the NBA money to make the lives of those around them easier. And that's a blessing. The curse comes in the form of bottom-feeders; those who seek support without an adequate return.
At the end of the day, all the power (and money) is in the hands of a guy whose name is on the contract. But the risk is big -- we've seen multiple examples of players' lives being ruined after keeping the wrong ones too close for too long. Fortunately, despite his decision to take care of his five-man crew, Gary Payton doesn't fall into that category.
"We had jacked off all our rookie contract. You're buying everything. You got all the Bentleys, you got all the cribs. I got five guys that roll with me every day; I had a posse. And I got them all cars, apartments, everything."
Payton, whose Hall of Fame career secured him $104 million, kept his friends close after joining the NBA. He treated them like children without ever wanting something in return. Looking back on it, GP would do it again.
"It wasn't crazy to me," Payton said in his interview with DJ Vlad. "It was my guys that I loved. I grew up with them, and I told them to make them a better life to get them to stay out of trouble and doing that, because four of my guys, if I took them out, they would've probably been dead by now. Now, if I look at them all, they all got families, they had done something. My best friend Milton; we started a business together that's still rolling now. So we're fine."
Following LeBron's example
Unlike The Glove, some of his peers who had the same approach weren't so lucky -- Allen Iverson is the obvious example. All of them meant well, but it's the execution that ultimately matters.
It's important to remember where you came from; it's even more important to do everything in one's power to keep someone from going back. Regardless of the intentions, handing out money can be detrimental for everyone involved. That's why it's crucial for a player, as well as everyone in his inner circle, to come up with a plan. Payton used LeBron James' example.
"LeBron's crew got smart," Gary said. "They had a plan. They wanted to make an empire, and they did make an empire and they're still making an empire with all of them. I wish that our crew would've been the same way."
NBA entourages live on, but it seems both the players, as well as people in their inner circles, are smarter than ever. According to Payton, LeBron and his crew get the credit for it.
"They learned from looking at our crew, and they said, 'No, we don't want to do that, we don't want to be that.' I wish other crews would've looked at that and seen that because they had all the tools like what his crew got, you just had to know how to do it," GP said. "But we were more into partying. And it wasn't working."