Baseball circles will never let the debate on the Steroid Era die down, especially as the marquee names linked to performance-enhancing drugs find themselves on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Every argument in the book has seen the light of day: everyone linked to it should be excluded from the hall; only those found guilty should stay out; everyone was doing it so let them in, etc. Former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa is one of the players at the heart of the argument. He deserves better than the tarnishing of his legacy.
The Dominican Republican-born Sosa made his Major League Baseball debut as a twenty-year-old in 1989. Over the course of his 18-year career, he mashed 609 home runs and was selected to seven All-Star teams.
Sosa’s greatest achievement, however, will always be the magnificent home run race of 1998 in which he and Mark McGwire demolished Roger Maris’s seemingly unbreakable record of 61 home runs. Sosa finished the year with 66 homers (four behind McGwire’s 70) and the National League MVP award.
Sure, his career stats have plenty of gaps in comparison to other Hall of Famers – i.e., his career Wins Above Replacement of 58.4 is about 15 wins fewer than the average Hall of Fame right fielder due to poor baserunning and fielding.
However, for at least a five year stretch from 1998 to 2002, Sosa was one of the most important players in the game. His back-and-forth duel and congruent friendship with McGwire helped pull the MLB from the bitterness which followed its 1994 players’ strike, making the game exciting and newsworthy again.
Not only did Sosa club more than Maris’ 61 home runs three times during that stretch, but he also became a great ambassador for the game. In his first home game following the attacks on September 11, Sosa carried an American flag as he circled the bases on his first inning home run at America’s most famous ballpark.
His ambiguous statements about PED use and expected PED use will forever be a major demerit on his career. With positive-testing players receiving increased Hall of Fame votes, it’s time we let Slammin’ Sammy back into our hearts and into the Hall.
NBA players are some of the richest athletes in the world, with a former NBA star becoming the first billionaire athlete. Despite this, one of the greatest and best-paid players ever only has a net worth of $1 million because of bad financial choices…
Shaquille O’Neal- $400 Million
Shaquille O’Neal’s larger-than-life physical size and personality have made him a famous star that won four NBA Championships. After 19 awesome seasons in an NBA career that saw him awarded an MVP and Rookie of the Year award as well as 15 All-Star selections, Shaq retired. That being said, he always supplemented his salary with movie appearances and various investments. He’s a smart guy, too, having earned a Doctorate in Education a year after he retired in 2011. With $400 million, he’s one of the richest players on this list.
Yao Ming – $120 Million
Basketball’s rise in China didn’t necessarily come about because of Yao Ming, but it wouldn’t be nearly as big as it is today if not for him. He’s China’s biggest international athlete and one of the NBA’s biggest stars. Indeed, he’s the only player from abroad to receive the most All-Star votes. Ming was honored by being named All-Star for each of his eight seasons playing in the NBA. Thanks to his NBA career and endorsements, he has a net worth of $120 million.
Stephen Curry – $130 Million
Stephen Curry has seen his net worth explode to a whopping $130 million in recent years as part of the Golden State Warriors, who were back-to-back NBA champions in 2017 and 2018. Winning the championships three times so far, he’s been named MVP twice and an NBA All-Star six times. He signed a $201 million, five-year deal with the team in 2017, the largest ever signed by an NBA player. Curry’s endorsements include deals with Under Armour, Brita, JPMorgan Chase, and PressPlay.
Lebron James – $400 Million
LeBron James is one of the most anticipated players to ever enter the NBA, and he has not disappointed. After a spectacular high school career, he entered the NBA in 2003 and became Rookie of the Year. With three NBA Championships and 16 NBA All-Star selections, he’s considered one of the greatest players who ever lived. Indeed, James is a cultural phenomenon that extends far beyond the sport, appearing in movies and TV. Besides ridiculously high NBA salaries, he has a lifelong, $1 billion endorsement deal with Nike and is currently worth $400 million.
Kevin Garnett – $190 Million
In 1995, when he was drafted, it was the first time a player entered the NBA directly in 20 years. Recently, he played in Uncut Gems as a fictionalized version of himself. All in all, Garnett has a net worth of $190 million.
Chris Paul – $75 Million
Chris Paul is one of the prominent point guards playing in the NBA, so it’s only fair that he is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Paul is the sort of player others look to when plays need to be made, which has earned him two huge contract extensions. The first was for $68 million and the second for $107 million, with accumulated with his other endorsements. Notably, he’s also the president of the National Basketball Players Association.
Patrick Ewing – $85 Million
Patrick Ewing had a great career in college, which made him a top draft choice. When he joined the New York Knicks, he gave them one of the greatest rookie seasons ever. Ewing is a legend, simply put, having gone to 11 All-Star games and playing on America’s Olympic “Dream Team” that dominated the 1992 tournament. The Hall-of-Famer also appeared in Space Jam, as he was one of the stars whose talent was stolen by the aliens. Furthermore, he started Ewing Athletics, a shoe brand.
Tony Parker – $75 Million
Tony Parker is a winner, with four champions won with the San Antonio Spurs. Born in Belgium to a Dutch mother and an African-American father, he was raised in France. After starting off in the French basketball league, he joined the NBA without first competing in the NCAA. Parker never won fewer than 50 games per season in his entire career. With his money, he’s invested in the professional soccer club of Lyon, in France, where he is a minority owner. Parker also owns a majority of that city’s women’s basketball club.
Steve Nash – $95 Million
South African-born Canadian Steven Nash played 18 seasons with the NBA, where he was named the league’s MVP two years in a row with the Phoenix Suns. Notably, when the Suns first drafted him in 1996 fans booed the choice, as he didn’t play college ball in the NCAA’s major conferences. Nash is still involved in the NBA, although he retired as a player, as the Lakers hired him to be a player development consultant. He also co-owns an MLS team, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and has a net worth of $95 million.
James Harden – $80 Million
James Harden is a powerhouse point guard, currently playing for the Houston Rockets. He’s earned accolades as one of the best players in the NBA, yet the championship eludes him. Despite never making it all the way, Harden signed an $80 million contract extension in 2012, a $118 million contract extension later on, and received a $200 million Adidas endorsement. A lot of that money has yet to be paid out, though, and his net worth is currently at $80 million.
Dikembe Mutombo – $75 Million
Dikembe Mutombo is another star that never won a championship, but he was such a monster NBA player that he signed lucrative contracts, most notably a $55 million contract in 1995. Today, he has a net worth of about $75 million. With all his wealth, Mutombo started the Mutombo Foundation to focus his philanthropic efforts. He helped pay for a hospital in Kinshasa, Congo, which is where he comes from. Furthermore, he has worked to make vaccines more readily available throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ray Allen – $100 Million
Ray Allen impressed basketball fans for years on the NBA courts with his jump shot. The ultimate three-point shooter, he retired in 2014 holding the record for the most career three-pointers attempted and made. He scored a lot of lucrative contracts because, indeed, he is the three-point king. However, he might better be known as Jesus Shuttlesworth, the character he played in Spike Lee’s 1998 film He Got Game. All in all, he’s got some $100 million to his name.
Phil Jackson – $70 Million
Phil Jackson, known as the “Zen Master,” played in the late ’60s to the end of the ’70s and won two NBA championships with the Knicks. Paydays in the NBA were much smaller then, but it’s what he did since then that earned him his moniker, which was through his holistic approach to coaching, influenced by Eastern philosophy. He’s won more championships than any other coach, bringing his total championships to 13. He’s since served as an executive of the Knicks, and has a net worth of $70 million.
Hakeem Olajuwon – $200 Million
Hakeem Olajuwon came a long way from his childhood in Lagos, Nigeria, where he played soccer as a goalkeeper. He didn’t even start playing basketball until he was 17, and couldn’t dunk in the beginning. He eventually earned his nickname “The Dream” for how effortlessly he dunked once he moved over to the U.S. to pursue a basketball career by playing for the University of Houston. According to him, he made $100 million over his 18 years in the NBA and another $100 million in real estate since then.
Tracy McGrady – $75 Million
Tracy McGrady looked like he was half-asleep the whole time he was on the court, but wise opponents knew not let his appearance fool them when they needed to cover him. One time, he scored no less than 13 points in the final 35 seconds of a playoff game to carry his team to victory. McGrady was part of a wave of talented high school players who transitioned directly into the NBA. Over 15 years in the NBA, he got over $163 million in paychecks before retiring in 2013.
Dwight Howard – $100 Million
Dwight Howard’s bigger frame has helped him since he was in high school, and this translated well when he skipped the NCAA and entered the NBA in 2004. He immediately delivered in his early years, developing into a league leader in blocks and rebounds. Although injuries have plagued him and prevented him from delivering the same performance as in the past, Howard has raked in a net worth of $100 million through contracts with different teams over the years, including the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, and Atlanta Hawks. Currently, he’s with the Lakers.
Jason Kidd – $75 Million
Currently an assistant coach for the Lakers, Jason Kidd was the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks from 2014 to 2018. Kidd also made a fortune as a player, though, who joined the NBA in 1994 with the Dallas Mavericks and retired in 2013 after a season with the New York Knicks. Back in 2003, for example, he signed a $99 million contract with the New Jersey Nets to be paid out over six years. He helped the Mavericks win the NBA championship in 2011.
Amar’e Stoudemire – $70 Million
Amar’e Stoudemire went straight to the NBA from high school, despite committing earlier to play at the University of Memphis, the only high school player drafted in 2002. That year, which happened to be Yao Ming and Caron Butler’s first year, he was the first straight-from-high-school player to be awarded the NBA Player of the Year. He scored lucrative contracts before retiring in 2016. He went on to play on Israeli and Chinese teams, not to mention opening a Stoudemire winery in Israel. All in all, his net worth is $70 million.
Reggie Miller – $90 Million
Ray Allen might have the most three-point field goals made in the NBA, but when Reggie Miller retired he was the all-time leader with 2,560 made. Miller played all of his 18 seasons with the Indiana Pacers, with many considering him the best player the team ever had. A Hall-of-Famer, he retired in 2005. You can hear his commentary on TNT, where he is an NBA commentator. All things included, his current net worth is appraised at $90 million.
Derrick Rose – $70 Million
Derrick Rose played for just one year for the University of Memphis Tigers before getting drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2008. That year, he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award, and two years later he was named the MVP. Rose is still the youngest player to be named MVP at just 22, but in recent years a slew of injuries have lessened his playing time dramatically. He left Chicago in 2016 and played for a different team each year since. Early lucrative contracts guaranteed his wealth and his net worth currently stands at $70 million.
Rasheed Wallace – $75 Million
Rasheed Wallace is known for being one of the biggest smack talkers in the NBA, and he backed it up with an attitude on the court. Over 80 games from 2001 to 2002, he received no less than 41 technical fouls, which is a record. Despite this, he was consistently good, managing to command paychecks of over $150 million combined over his 16 years. Out of that, he’s been able to retain a cool $75 million in net worth.
Pat Riley – $80 Million
Pat Riley had a decent playing career in the NBA, winning a championship with the Lakers in 1972, yet it was with the same team that he would win no less than four titles during the ’80s. In 1995 after a few years with the New York Knicks, he became the president and head coach of the Miami Heat. After that, he won another championship with the Heat in 2006. He moved on to focus solely on being an executive, and he currently has a net worth of $80 million.
Gary Payton – $130 Million
Gary Payton joined the NBA in 1990 and quickly made a difference for the Seattle Supersonics. He played 13 seasons with the team, and leads in franchise records for points, assists, and steals. Payton’s ability to play defense earned him the name “The Glove.” In his day, he was also known as a trash talker, which brought him to the fourth-most technical fouls of any player. Despite this, he clearly has a soft spot because he’s been involved in charity for years. He has a net worth of $130 million.
Chris Webber – $80 Million
Chris Webber began making waves as a high school and, later, NCAA star in college. He never won championships as a college or professional player, yet he was a force to be reckoned with from 1993 when he joined the NBA until his retirement. A five-time NBA All-Star, he was also Rookie of the Year. He’s given color analysis for NCAA and NBA games since 2008 when he ended his career. Currently, his net worth is appraised at $80 million.
Tim Duncan – $130 Million
Now an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan also spent his entire NBA career with the team. He didn’t start playing until ninth grade, however, as he was an aspiring swimmer who moved to basketball when Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic swimming pool in his hometown. Over 19 seasons, Duncan helped the team win the NBA Championships five times and was named an NBA All-Star 15 times. When he retired in 2016, the Spurs retired his number to honor his contribution to the team.
Karl Malone – $75 Million
Karl Malone earned the nickname “The Mailman” because you know he would deliver when you needed it. Playing 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz, he finished his career as the second all-time scorer, despite never winning a championship. He holds records for most attempted and made free throws. A 14-time NBA All-Star, not all of his $75 million is from his career earnings in the NBA. Malone owns two car dealerships in Salt Lake City, in addition to three restaurants in Louisiana, his home state.
Dwyane Wade – $95 Million
Dwyane Wade retired from the NBA in 2019 and he managed to accrue a fortune of $95 million through paychecks and endorsements over 16 years in the league. Considering his immense philanthropic efforts over the years and contributing 10% of his salary to a Chicago church, he could have been even richer. Most of his time in the NBA was spent playing for the Miami Heat and he leads the team in points, games, assists, steals, shots made, and shots taken. Wade is a 13-time NBA All-Star.
Alonzo Mourning – $70 Million
Alonzo Mourning was once the Heat’s biggest star before Dwyane Wade joined and took his throne, but he does have the distinction of being the first player on the team to have his number retired. In 2006, he helped them win a championship in 2006. Mourning played most of his 15-year career with the Heat before retiring in 2008, and by then he had been named NBA All-Star five times. Alonzo is involved in charity campaigns to fund research for focal glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease he has. He has a net worth of $70 million.
Dirk Nowitzki – $120 Million
Dirk Nowitzki from Germany got drafted to the NBA in 1998 by the Milwaukee Bucks, but they traded him straight away. This was a huge mistake as the 14-time NBA All-Star took the Mavericks to the playoffs 15 times. Over his 22-year career, all of which was with Dallas, he made $220 million before retiring in 2019. That money, along with endorsements, contributed to his fortune, but he spent much of it founding the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, which combats poverty in Africa. He has a net worth of $120 million.
Carmelo Anthony – $90 Million
Carmelo Anthony has been named an NBA All-Star 10 times and, since he’s still an active player, there’s still a chance he will help a team win the NBA Championships. Despite missing out on the elusive NBA title, he’s performed remarkably in the Olympics, being part of three gold-medal teams and leading the US team in all-time points, rebounds, and games played. Since 2017, after years with the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks, he’s switched teams every year. Now with the Portland Trail Blazers, he has negotiated hefty salaries and brought his net worth up to $90 million.
Grant Hill – $180 Million
Grant Hill was a star player for Duke University before being selected by the Detroit Pistons in the 1994 NBA draft. A seven-time NBA All-Star, he struggled with a recurring ankle injury from 2000 on, yet managed to be a serious playmaker on every team he was part of and negotiated serious salaries as a result. In the end, he used much of this money to purchase the Atlanta Hawks as part of an ownership group. He’s worth $180 million, all things considered.
Kevin Durant – $150 Million
Kevin Durant, a powerful force to be reckoned with in basketball, most recently won the NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018. Despite this, every single team squandered their chance to pick him in the first round of the 2007 NBA draft. At the moment, he plays for the Brooklyn Nets, and there’s definitely more game in him. With a whopping $60 million in endorsements and contracts worth tens of millions a year, he’s accrued a net worth of $150 million.
Chris Bosh – $105 million
Chris Bosh first joined the NBA when the Toronto Raptors chose him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft after a year of college ball. Breaking his teeth in Toronto, where he developed into a star player, he came to the Miami Heat and replaced the outgoing LeBron James as the team’s star. Bosh retired officially in 2019, yet the league had forbidden him from playing three years prior because of a serious blood clotting issue. He has a net worth of $105 million.
Magic Johnson – $600 Million
Magic Johnson is one of NBA’s biggest stars ever, with five championships, three MVP awards, and 12 NBA All-Star selections. However, he only made $18 million as a player in the NBA, as he played before contracts exploded into the multi-million bonanzas they are today. Despite this, he boasts $600 million that he made with his business empire, Magic Johnson Enterprise. It’s worth about $1 billion and is invested in movie theaters, Starbucks, T.G.I. Fridays, and other restaurants. In addition, he is a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Shawn Kemp – $5 Million
Shawn Kemp is a six-time All-Star who has made over $90 million in his career, yet he’s only got about $5 million to his name. Playing from 1989 to 2003, he tried to make an NBA comeback later but failed. “The Reign Man,” as he was nicknamed, certainly made it rain down money during his career, specifically to his kids. Much of the money he made must have gone just to make a dent in the likely astronomical monthly alimony payments for his 15 kids with six different women.
Antoine Walker – $250,000
Antoine Walker is another player who should be worth much more, but bad financial decisions left him with a meager (comparatively) $250,000. In 12 years, he made $108 million in contracts, but he eventually filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after being over $8 million in debt. Apparently, he was just too generous and had 70 people on a payroll, including friends and family. Walker also spent on himself, and his car collection included two Bentleys, a pair of Mercedes’, a Range Rover, an Escalade, and a Hummer. He’s working now as a basketball analyst.
Latrell Sprewell – $50,000
Latrell Sprewell played in the NBA from 1992 in a career that spanned 12 seasons. He shocked the basketball world with his hot-head antics, and then again when he turned down a three-year, $21 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, for whom he had been playing since 2003. Sprewell claimed it was not enough to feed his family, but he owed so much money by then that any bit should have been welcome. He defaulted on his loans, grounded his million-dollar yacht, and had his belongings repossessed.
Allen Iverson – $1 Million
Allen Iverson is an 11-time All-Star who has raked in $155 million from salaries over a long basketball career. He’s second behind Michael Jordan in highest per game scoring average, which is impressive considering his (relatively) short, 6’0″ stature. Unable to keep away from the game, he’s played abroad in Turkey and still plays basketball in the three-on-three BIG3 basketball league on 3’s Company. Despite his incredible career earnings and endorsements, his big spending means he’s only worth about $1 million today.
Blake Griffin – $90 million
Blake Griffin has been named an NBA All-Star six times so far since getting drafted by the LA Clippers in 2009. In 2018 he moved to the Detroit Pistons, where he plays today. A master dunker standing at 6’10”, his prowess on the court has seen Griffin score multi-million dollar contracts. He has seen his net worth increase to $90 million through his paychecks and endorsements, as he is currently one of the biggest and most popular stars in the NBA.
David Robinson – $90 million
David Robinson, nicknamed “The Admiral” because he is a former US Navy officer, is a 10-time All-Star, MVP, and two-time NBA champion. In fact, he’s the only NBA player to have come out of the Naval Academy. While he made a lot of money in the NBA, since 2003 he has used his money to make more money with two different private equity funds. Robinson donates 10% of his profits to charities, which makes his financial successes all the more obvious.
Juwan Howard – $80 million
Juwan Howard is the first person in the NBA to sign a contract worth over $100 million in 1996 with a $105 million contract with the Washington Bullets. He played from 1994 to 2013, when he became an assistant coach for the Miami Heat until 2019. That year, he became the head coach for the Michigan Wolverines, which is also where he played NCAA basketball. He continues to be involved in philanthropy, having distinguished himself throughout his career by devoting his time to visiting patients and doing charity. Howard’s net worth is $80 million.
Paul Pierce – $70 million
Paul Pierce, nicknamed “The Truth,” played 19 seasons in the NBA, becoming a champion in 2008 and named an NBA All-Star 10 times. His nickname was given to him in 2001 by Shaquille O’Neal, who raved about the Boston Celtic’s star. “I knew he could play,” he said, “but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is The Truth.” Pierce made around $22 million a year on average, which inflated his net worth along with serious endorsements from the likes of Steiner Sports, Spalding, and Nike.
Elton Brand – $70 million
Elton Brand is currently the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, but he also made a lot of his $70 million by playing in the NBA. After playing in Chicago and L.A. he came to Philadelphia in 2008, leaving in 2012 for Dallas. Brand joined the Hawks the next year but left to retire in 2015. He returned in 2016 to play until the end of the season with the 76ers. He retired that year and became a player development consultant for the team. In 2018, Brand was promoted to the general manager position.
Jermaine O’Neal – $70 million
Jermaine O’Neal has a net worth of $70 million after 18 seasons with the NBA. It took him a while from the time he was drafted in 1996 by the Portland Trail Blazers to make a name for himself, though. He was named an NBA All-Star six times, each time during his eight-year stint with the Indiana Pacers from 2000 to 2008, but just missed out on getting a championship by retiring from the Golden State Warriors in 2014, a year before the team won.
Scottie Pippen — $50 Million
Considered one of the greatest small forwards of all time, Scottie Pippen was probably the most celebrated “No. 2” in history. Not only did he play 17 seasons in the NBA but he also won six championships with the Chicago Bulls. Pippen, along with the legendary Michael Jordan, played an important role in transforming the Bulls into a championship team and in popularizing the NBA around the world during the ’90s. As of 2020, Pippen’s estimated net worth ranges between $30 and $50 million. Although he’s done pretty well for himself, there was a point in time that Pippen was one of the most underpaid basketball players in the NBA.
Dennis Rodman — $500,000
Nicknamed “The Worm” for his fierce defensive and rebounding abilities, Dennis Rodman earned the NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice. Not only did he play for the Chicago Bulls along with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen but he also played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks. Although Rodman earned around $29 million in salary alone playing in the NBA, his net worth as of 2020 is roughly just $500,000.
Steve Kerr — $18 Million
With a 15-year career as a player, it’s no surprise that Steve Kerr is an eight-time NBA champion, having won five titles as a player — three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs. As of today, Kerr has three more championship titles under his belt, this time as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Kerr’s salary as a coach is $5 million per year with an estimated net worth of around $18 million.
Michael Jordan – $2.1 Billion
While LeBron James is indeed giving Michael Jordan a run for his money as the greatest basketball player of all time, there’s only one Air Jordan. A 14-time NBA All-Star with six NBA Championships, he’s largely credited for making the NBA the international phenomenon it is today, and one of the most successfully marketed athletes in history. His money-making ventures range from restaurants to car dealerships and from professional sports teams to Nike shoes. Despite his astronomical expenditures, Jordan is the first athlete to be worth over a billion dollars and currently has a net worth $2.1 billion.