Andre Iguodala says Warriors locker room talk about investing; he discusses money, wealth

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What is most NBA locker room talk like? Exactly what you think most talk is about with 20-something men: there’s plenty of trash talk, with other topics being women, cars, Fortnite, clothes, and, occasionally, their jobs.

However, things can be a little different in the Golden State Warriors locker room, as Andre Iguodala told Wealthsimple in an exclusive interview.

A number of my Warriors teammates — Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, JaVale McGee — are into investing and tech. But we never look at it as a competition. We inform each other of what’s going on. We have a lot of conversations. I learn something from all of those guys. Steph was having a conversation about net neutrality one day, and I wasn’t as caught up on it. He got started on it, and I was locked in, because he did his homework!

“That’s our locker room talk. We have free agents come to our team, and the first day the guy is walking in like, “What do you know about this business?”

We know the pro athlete stereotype: An alpha male making and spending a lot of money who will be broke three years after he is out of the league — and some players live up to that stereotype. However, there are a lot of players who are smart about their money. Players, especially ones who stick in the league longer than a handful of seasons, start to think long-term about how they can set up not just themselves but their children and grandchildren with the money they earn.

Iguodala is one of those guys. In this interview for the Website of the investing tool WealthSimple, Iguodala talks about the evolution of his thinking about money, wealth, and responsibility.

“I wasn’t thinking about all the money, the cars, jewelry (when he came into the league). I’d never seen that before, so I wasn’t looking for it. My first contract was for four years, $9 million. I think the fourth year was a team option, so if you don’t improve over the first three years, then they can cut you — so, really, three years, $7 million. You get an advance over the summer, and just before the draft, you get an advance for trading cards and an advance for a shoe contract. I remember a loan agency floating me until I got the advances. They sent me a check for $25,000. I think I just went to Niketown and bought a whole bunch of pairs of Jordans. I spent like two or three grand and it felt like I spent a million dollars. I didn’t know how to spend money. And it was so early that there wasn’t enough money to go buy a car, you know? I was happy where I was at….

“I had a few veterans who were really smart with their money (who were mentors). I mean, they had nice contracts, but in the scheme of the NBA, they were on the lower end. I asked a lot of questions, and they got me into good habits early. I think it’s always important for young athletes to position themselves with the veterans who are professionally and financially savvy.

“One of my favorite conversations was with Elton Brand, who had two or three max contracts. He talked about black wealth. He talked about Oprah’s situation, Will Smith — African Americans who created a lot of wealth. There aren’t too many of us. There are only 23 billionaires that are African Americans. It wasn’t like he was trying to teach me a lesson: Make sure you do this, make sure you do that. It was more like: You know how hard it is to have wealth. Period. And then how hard it is to be African American with wealth?

A lot of players see that as a responsibility — to take advantage of their financial opportunity (and to give back to the community).

The interview is worth reading and includes Iguodala’s business partner Rudy Cline-Thomas, who talks about their investing strategy and how they don’t go targeting basketball-related ventures or things where Iguodala is the pitchman. The goal is much bigger than that. They look for certain kinds of start-ups, knowing that there will be misses but also hits that really pay off. It’s a process.

And it’s something more and more players take seriously.