Making money playing basketball is hard. Only 1% of NCAA basketball players make it to the NBA. But basketball shouldn’t be about money. A few days ago my good friend was speaking to me about his early playing days in Turkey. He spoke to me about how he started playing in the pro’s at the age of 17 and the players he used to play with that now have gone on to make a career for some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
One thing that came to focus was a similar experience that I had in my career. The fact that he wasn’t getting paid what he thought he was worth made him walk away from an opportunity. So I think it’s time you youngsters that are looking to get into the pro basketball ranks listen to lessons learnt by the older generation.
My friends walking away from a pro basketball contract
So to summarise a long conversation my friend and I had. A point in his career he was asked to come tryout for a division 2 side in Turkey along with one of his friends. The season before he had some massive performances in the regional and national finals.
He was in the process of signing with the division 2 team but he found out what the other players were getting paid. Shocked that he was getting significantly less he decided to crack the shits and walk away from the team.
The repercussions of this was that he didn’t continue his professional career but his semi professional career was hampered too. You see, in certain leagues in Europe coaches are a tight knit community. Poor behaviour by players travels fast and in this case it travelled all the way to the division 3 team my friend was playing for. This brought his professional basketball career to a grinding halt.
My personal experience
I mentioned that I too had a similar experience. When I finished college in USA I was talking to a team in the UK 2nd division, the Sheffield Arrows. One of my Canadian friends was the import for the team and I was planning to join him. I was hoping to get paid a decent wage as I was a division 1 basketball player and they were paying my friend well. But all I was offered was free accommodation, potentially a job with a sponsor and for extra money, coach camps.
This offer offended me! How dare they just offer me what a mid level English basketball player would get. I was after all a division 1 basketball player. It was that same ego that prevented me from having a long career in the professional ranks, instead of the short one I had.
Learnings from our stories
The key learning here is if your ego gets in the way and you think about the money instead of the love for playing the game. Then you might as well give up, you are playing basketball for the wrong reasons.
In your basketball career there will be moments where players will get paid more than you. Don’t allow that to limit how far you can go. For example, my friend that was in the process of signing with a division 2 team in Turkey. A fellow teammate of his that stuck it out got signed to Fenerbache one of the largest basketball clubs in Europe. He has had a long career playing in the top league in Turkey and earning hundreds of thousands if not millions playing the game he loves.
Learn from our mistakes and take every opportunity you get and make the most of it. Keep your head in basketball and not the making money playing basketball trap. Play the game for the love, the money will come.