Even when a guy like Antoine Walker writes a book about making $108 million and then going broke, you still wonder how that’s possible, right? Well, Gilbert Arenas shared a story about his rookie year that will paint a perfect picture.
Sleeping in the gym
Every player gets an estimate of where he should expect to get drafted. After checking which teams are expected to pick at those spots, the very next thing is to check the rookie salary for those spots. Gilbert Arenas was told to he’d be a top 10 draft pick, and that was music to his ears. Agent Zero got himself an expensive chain and a souped-up Escalade with five TVs and a suede roof.
One of the most talented players of his generation, Arenas wasn’t known for his professionalism. When he came to the rookie combine, Gilbert did his cardio test on the treadmill in untied Timberlands. Teams notice that stuff, and when Joe Johnson got selected with the 10th pick in the 2001 Draft, Gilbert was still waiting to hear his name. He would wait a bit longer, all the way to the 31st pick. Yep, Arenas fell to the second round. Suddenly, his 845.000 rookie salary wasn’t enough to cover everything he had bought.
“When they did my budget, I can only spend $500 a month. That's gas money, girlfriend, two dogs. I couldn't even drive back and forth to the arena. I had to say at the arena sometimes. I slept in the arena.”
Gilbert Arneas, DJ Vlad
This was a sobering moment for Agent Zero. Sleeping in the gym because he couldn’t afford gas, too proud to ask teammates to give him some money, the reality of being a professional kicked in for Arenas.” You’re on you’re own, and you have all the time in the world not to get in trouble.” As we know, it took a long time before Gilbert figured out how not to get in trouble.
Should've stayed in college.
While talking about this episode, Arenas mentioned something else, once again confirming the NCAA story about student-athletes is utter bulls**t.
“It wasn't fun. I even said then, 'I wish I could come back to college. I took a pay cutcoming here.'"
Gilbert Arneas, DJ Vlad
Pay cut? But players aren’t paid in the NCAA, right? We already covered Al Harrington sharing his experience, openly saying a college offered him” a truck and cash” to join their program. They even went so far as to offer to hire his mom and give Harrington $450.000 cash.
So for a lot of kids, joining the NBA meant a pay cut and suddenly not being the best guy in the gym. Arenas said the biggest lesson he took from his rookie year was the realization he wasn’t nearly as good as he thought he was. As hard as it was to accept that fact, the embarrassment of being broke fueled the fire to watch film and warrant a bigger contract.
Gil retired with earnings over 160 million, so he’s set for life. But his rookie year gives us a fascinating insight into the lives of pro athletes. They can spend it as quickly as they can make it.