Skip to main content

How NBA Stars Spent Their First Paychecks: Shaq Buys Three Mercedes, LeBron James Takes Friends To Amusement Park


Most NBA stars experience becoming wealthy within their first season of joining the league. After playing in the collegiate circuit or playing abroad, young players join the NBA, mostly by declaring themselves for the NBA Draft. Many players get selected and then sign their rookie contracts to join these teams. Many players even sign an endorsement deal with different companies as they enter the league. 

But how do these players spend this money? Some go the flashy route and make incredibly exuberant purchases to show off their wealth. Whereas some choose to be a little conservative with their expenditure. Here's how some NBA stars used their first paycheck after entering the league.

Harrison Barnes: New Bed 

Oct 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (40) sets the play against the Charlotte Hornets during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 3, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes (40) sets the play against the Charlotte Hornets during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Harrison Barnes entered the NBA in 2012 after a successful stint in college. Barnes signed with the Golden State Warriors and began his career with them. His first purchase was a comfortable bed. Barnes went on to be selected for the NBA All-Rookie First Team for the 2012-13 season

After signing his contract, the forward experienced the rush of having financial security for the first time in his life. So he went to the furniture store and tested every bed that was available there. He had told himself there "I'm going to choose the bed I want to sleep on." He went on to select a high-end model that was available in the store and picked a great comfortable bed for himself. 

LaMelo Ball: Grill For His Teeth


LaMelo Ball's first season in the NBA was a huge success. He went third overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, joining the Charlotte Hornets. Ball became an instant sensation with the team, immediately improving them greatly through the season. Despite Ball's injury, he came close to bringing the Hornets to the Playoffs. Thanks to his performances, Ball was named the 2020-21 NBA Rookie Of The Year.

But Ball was thrilled the moment he signed his rookie contract with the Hornets. He inked a big deal, and immediately rewarded himself with a big purchase. He went out and spent $14,000 on custom-made bejeweled grills. According to the jeweler, it was "the most amount of diamonds I've ever put in a grill". Perhaps the grill worked as a good luck charm, as LaMelo had a fantastic rookie season with the Hornets.

Ja Morant: Cars For His Parents

ja morant dad car

The 2019-20 Rookie Of The Year had an excellent year by all accounts. Despite being the 2nd overall pick behind consensus 1st pick Zion Williamson, Morant proved to be the more explosive star in their first season. Morant won Rookie Of The Year over Williamson, establishing himself as one of the standout young talents from his draft class.

But Morant probably felt a greater sense of accomplishment with what he did off the court than what he did on the court. After signing his rookie contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, Morant purchased two cars for his parents. His dad got a Dodge Charger SRT, whereas his mom received an Audi L8. Morant was clearly thrilled to help give his parents an experience they would never forget, and fully succeeded in that.

Trae Young: Audi R8

Screen Shot 2021-08-10 at 3.17.05 PM

Trae Young has now established himself as one of the best young players in the league. He has become a regular All-Star over the last two seasons and has shown that he is a superstar for the big occasions. Young led the underdog Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals this NBA Playoffs, even defeating title-contenders Philadelphia 76ers. Recently, Young signed a huge $207 million contract extension with the Atlanta Hawks, so he is about to become a very wealthy man. 

But it will be interesting to see if Young rewards himself like the last time he signed a big contract. After signing his rookie contract with the Hawks, Young splurged on himself and purchased an Audi R8. It was a gift for himself for making it to the NBA. The gift would become popular on social media, mostly because of a team prank the veterans played on Trae Young when they filled his car with popcorn. But regardless, Young was very happy with the car.

Andre Iguodala: Sneakers


Andre Iguodala has been a surprise success in the NBA. When Iggy first entered the league in 2004, few would have expected him to become an All-Star or an NBA Champion, let alone an NBA Finals MVP. But he achieved all that while being part of one of the greatest NBA dynasties in history. Iggy brought solid veteran experience to the Golden State Warriors and even locked up LeBron James in the 2015 Finals enough to be named Finals MVP.

But Iguodala had very different priorities when he first entered the league. When he signed his rookie contract with the league, the swingman spent a huge sum of money on sneakers, namely Jordans. Iguodala didn't have enough money from his contract to buy a car, but spending thousands of dollars on shoes and basketballs felt like a lot more.

Draymond Green: Expensive Night Out


Draymond Green is one of the best defenders of all time. Few people expected him to reach the heights that he did when he first entered the league. But Green went on to become the enforcer for the Warriors' dynasty as they won three NBA championships. On top of that, he also became a multiple-time All-Star and has had several successful business ventures, even with LeBron James.

Green was never guaranteed this much success, and by extension, the money that comes with success. So it's only natural that Green ended up having a big celebration when he reached the league. Green revealed to Kneading Dough that he ended up spending a five-figure sum on a night out when they celebrated his arrival in the NBA. Green noted that it was an unnecessary expenditure and that he could have had a great time while spending less money.

Ben Simmons: Exotic Pets

(via Sports Illustrated)

(via Sports Illustrated)

Ben Simmons has been going through a tough time over the last few months. Because of his poor form during the playoffs, fans seem to have forgotten how good Simmons can be. He has been a perennial All-Star and has been one of the best defensive players in the league over the last few years. But Simmons hasn't just garnered attention for his play on the court.

Ben Simmons got an exotic female Savannah cat for himself in his rookie year. But noticing that the cat was lonely, Simmons arranged for another cat of the same breed. The entire transaction cost him $10,000, and he ended up regretting it, as the cats ended up behaving like wild animals. He had the cats sent away later.

Klay Thompson: Pool Table

Photo Source: Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Photo Source: Rocky Widner/Getty Images

As the son of former NBA champion Mychal Thompson, it comes as no surprise that Thompson had basketball in his genes. Thompson is a multiple-time NBA champion who has been a regular All-Star and one of the most lethal scorers of all time. When Klay gets on a roll, there is not a single defense in the NBA that can stop him. But Klay was an underrated draft prospect, with no guarantee of superstardom in the NBA.

When he signed his first contract with the Golden State Warriors, Thompson didn't make any huge purchases. Having an NBA player as a father, he was taught early how he should handle his finances. Thompson revealed that he used the money from his contract to buy a pool table and noted that he still has the table to this day.

Luka Doncic: Porsche Panamera

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic has quickly established himself as one of the best players in the NBA already. Within just three seasons, Doncic has achieved a lot of success in the league. Many fans believe that the young guard will be one of the future faces of the NBA, especially thanks to his international presence. But Doncic has been playing professional basketball for a lot longer. He played for the Spanish club Real Madrid and earned good money with them too before making the jump to the NBA.

With the money Doncic made with Real Madrid, he decided to buy a Porsche Panamera. It was the first major purchase he made. But now, Doncic is a superstar in the NBA, having recently signed a huge $207 million contract extension with the Mavericks. So he could be looking to add to his car collection soon.

Zion Williamson: Jeep Wrangler

zion williamson

Zion Williamson has been one of the most exciting prospects to enter the NBA since LeBron James. The Duke forward has an incredible combination of size and speed and can explode to the basket at any time. Many believe that Williamson will be the best player in the NBA, and take over the mantle of LeBron James as the most popular player in the NBA.

When he signed his rookie contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, Williamson got a lot of money. On top of that, he became an official athlete for the Jordan brand. So it only made sense that the big man spent some of that money. Williamson shelled out close to $40,000 on a customized Jeep Wrangler for his brother after getting his deal. The gift was a thoughtful gesture for his family member and showed a more down-to-earth side of Williamson.

Damian Lillard: Porsche Cabriolet

Damian Lillard Raises A Big Question On Twitter: 'If Social Media Allowed Us To Know Our “Idols” Of The Past The Way People Know Us Because Of The Accessibility... Would They Still Be Our Idols?'

Despite being in the same Draft class as Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard became the standout star from his class. After winning the 2013 NBA Rookie Of The Year, Lillard has gone on to become a perennial All-Star, All-NBA superstar in the league. Lillard has established himself as perhaps the most clutch player in the league today. Very few have shown the consistent ability to make big shots for the Blazers.

So for a player with the style of Dame, it is only natural that his first big spending spree resulted in him buying a Porsche Cabriolet. Lillard got his cheque from the Blazers, went back to California, and brought himself straight to the dealership. “I came back home, went to Burlingame to that Porsche dealership. I was looking at ‘em, test driving ‘em. I was scared as hell test driving them Porsche’s." Clearly, Lillard was not wasting his time when he made the purchase.

Chris Paul: Shopping Trip With Friends

Chris Paul Hornets

CP3 has been one of the most durable players in the history of this league. Paul has been in the league for 16 years and continues to play at the highest level, even reaching the NBA Finals for the first time last year. Because of his durability, Paul has been able to secure yet another big contract with the Phoenix Suns. But Paul is no stranger to seeing big amounts in his bank account.

After signing his rookie contract with the New Orleans Hornets, Paul took his friends and his girlfriend to the mall. He wanted to splurge on them and told them to buy whatever they want. Paul described being able to spend on his friends, saying "there's no feeling like it". Perhaps Paul will go on a similar spree now that he has signed a new contract.

Dwyane Wade: Escalade


Dwyane Wade ended up becoming one of the best players in the NBA despite having a shorter career than most superstars. Wade entered the league in 2003, as part of the historic draft class that includes LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. Wade was the first of the group to win a championship, winning in 2006 with Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat.

Wade did what many young players coming out of college do with their first big cheque. D-Wade bought himself a customized Escalade with his money. Wade noted that he saw the car when he was walking down the street during his time with Marquette, and made it his goal to buy the car one day. And the moment he got his money, he fulfilled his wish.

Shaquille O'Neal: 3 Mercedes Benzes

Shaq Orlando

When Shaq entered the league in 1992, he was the consensus first overall pick and went to the Orlando Magic. At the time, Shaq signed the biggest contract in franchise history, for 4 years and $40 million dollars. But Shaq went on to earn more money in his career, becoming one of the most dominant superstars in NBA history.

Shaq got a signing bonus with the Magic, and immediately went on a spending spree. He went to the Mercedes Benz dealership and bought himself a $150,000 car. When he showed the car to his dad, he asked Shaq where his car was. So Shaq went and bought another one for his father, and a slightly less expensive $100,000 Mercedes Benz for his mother. He ended up spending almost a cool $1 million on some other purchases for himself and his parents, but half of that went into the Mercedes Benzes that he bought.

LeBron James: Amusement Park Trip

LeBron James Will Have His First Losing Season In The NBA Since His Rookie Year

(via ProbasketballTalk - NBA | NBC Sports)

LeBron James was one of the most hyped prospects when he first entered the league in 2003. On top of a lucrative contract being signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers for being the first overall pick, James also signed a massive endorsement deal with Nike. LeBron earned a lot of money from this deal, but it would only be the beginning of his lucrative relationship with them.

Upon receiving the money from the first Nike contract, James didn't go on a huge spending spree. He deposited the cheque into his account and came away with $2000 in cash. But rather, he took all his friends and loved ones on a big amusement park trip. He only spent a little amount of money in order to have a good time and celebrate his journey into the NBA.


As time will go forward, more NBA players will come into big money. So these purchases can only get wilder and wilder. Especially as the NBA continues to grow, there will be more money available for players. But for now, these players will stand out for spending their money in very different ways.


Ranking LeBron James' Greatest Teammates In His Career

5 Legendary Superteams That Would Go 82-0 In The NBA

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James: Who Played With More Hall Of Fame Players?

10 Craziest Predictions For The 2021-2022 NBA Season: Jazz Win The Championship, LeBron James Becomes Oldest MVP Ever

10 Players You Didn't Know Played For The Miami Heat: Penny Hardaway, Danny Granger Retired In A Heat Jersey