Pictured: Milwaukee Bucks forward and rookie Jabari Parker
The NBA’s Senior Vice President of Player Development, Greg Taylor, reveals the financial blueprint the league gives to rookies
Having deep pockets like LeBron James and Michael Jordan requires more than just beasting on the hardwood. For NBA rookies, money matters begin the first day they ink a league contract. Here, NBA’s Senior Vice President of Player Development, Greg Taylor, discusses the importance of financial planning and budgeting. Bonus: no need to be a player to follow it. VIBE: What is the first tip of financial management you give players entering the league? Greg Taylor: We know it’s critical to have a budget so one of the essential tips [we give] when the players join the league is to get a sense of their understanding of financial issues and how to manage money. What we find is that players just haven’t taken the time to develop a budget, know how to follow a budget and so we climb into that very, very seriously. Are there certain factors to keep in mind while creating a budget? We know that [the players are] going to make sizable, financial income so when we talk about the components of an effective budget, and how to manage and really leverage your resources, we talk a lot about what to save, what to invest, what to give to charity or to a program. When we walk them through effective financial management, we know that if you save half of your money, spend 20% of your funds and invest the rest, you’ve got a pretty good diversified portfolio at that point so we try to coach them through the process. Is there an ideal percentage to save per check? We don’t necessarily do it on a check-by-check basis. What we do try to say is, with the revenue the players are earning, we want you to save 40% of that—we really do. Whether you invest or save that, that’s a very, very good percentage in terms of the revenue coming in and the dollars that they have. It’s really important to note that the average [life of an] NBA career is 4.7 years so we’re talking about guys, who in their playing days—in many cases at 26, 27, 28—you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. So that drive for you to effectively manage your money, save, spend responsibly, all of that is geared towards ensuring that players are set up financially for the remainder of their life. That starts with good decisions and good financial planning now.. In some cases, players just let their wallets run wild. Is that the most common money mistake you see? The bottom line is that we want the players to come into the money that they’ve rightfully earned because of their tremendous basketball ability. We’re not saying you can’t enjoy your income. You can enjoy your wealth, but we’re saying spend in moderation. Be clear on what your future goals and outlook is. Where do you want to be 10 years from now? As you come into the league, it is important to have that conversation with yourself, with your planners, and hopefully with the league when you first come in. What other programming is offered for player development? We offer a series of programming that really is consistent with the career trajectory of the players. In their rookie year, we simply want them to know what it means to be a successful pro and how to understand and navigate the issues and opportunities that they’ll face as a professional basketball player. That’s financial management, healthy relationships, managing social media, personal safety, career transition. All of those are actually the predominate learning tracks at the rookie transition program. We’ve seen the 30 to 30: Broke special and it’s been said that 60% of league players end up broke. What is your advice for bouncing back from financial trouble? I’m really glad you bought that up because one of the things that is really important to know is that that 60% of our players being broke when they leave the league is unsubstantiated. It’s not based on any research we’ve seen here at the league. If one guy leaves the game without knowledge about their financial decisions or how to effectively manage their money, that’s too many from our perspective. Social media is a big part of branding. Do you think social media habits correlate to players and how they handle their money? Social media is an amazing and powerful tool that the guys can really use to build their brands and conversely, poor use of social media can hurt their brands. We run sessions and programs for the guys about what it means to be a brand, what it means to have to care about and nurture your image, and how social media can help you do that. So in many ways, we do think that effective use of social media certainly can benefit the guys in the long run. We have a number of do’s and don’ts on how to effectively use it. We don’t want guys using social media right before or after losing a game. That’s not a good use of time. We try to walk through and really talk to them about the positive messages players can get out into the social media world because they really are ambassadors of the game. Is there a player or a specific success story that sticks out in your mind from working in the NBA? Well, I’ve been here since April of last year so I’m one of the newbies on staff. What I’m excited about are the number of success stories that I get to meet, talk to and talk about each and every day. There are too many names to give you but the reality is that we’re in the entertainment business and we know that when there are individual examples of players not doing right, then the media’s just on that. But what’s really amazing for me is that out of the 450 guys [in the league], I would argue well over 95% of those guys are simply doing the right thing each and every day. They’re going to hospitals to meet underprivileged children or ailing children, they’re doing work in homeless shelters, they’re working and running clinics and camps for kids over the summer, they’re giving back to their universities or colleges that they were a part of, older players are mentoring younger players. Those are the stories that are just heart-warming and really are the reason why I think our players are as powerful and talented and magnificent as they are.