Golden State Warriors star Andre Iguodala never planned on making a career out of basketball. "I had no idea I might make it to the NBA," he tells online investing service Wealthsimple. But after two years of playing college ball at the University of Arizona, he left early for the NBA draft and was selected ninth overall.
"I wasn't thinking about all the money, the cars, jewelry. I'd never seen that before, so I wasn't looking for it," Iguodala says, adding, "I just enjoyed playing basketball."
Still, money tends to come with a job like that. His first contract was "for four years, $9 million," he recalls. "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."
Iguodala, who was 20 at the time, headed straight to Niketown and bought "a whole bunch of pairs of Jordans," he says. "I spent like two or three grand and it felt like I spent a million dollars. I didn't know how to spend money."
The rookie also got a few investing books and made sure to position himself around teammates "who were really smart with their money" in order to establish good habits early on, he says.
Today, Iguodala earns an average salary of $16 million and has established himself as a savvy tech investor, investing in stocks like Facebook, Twitter and Tesla. Thanks to his proximity to Silicon Valley — the Warriors play just across the bay from San Francisco — he has had access to some high-profile investing mentors over the years, including venture capitalists.
"We have some great relationships with VCs out there, mainly Andreessen Horowitz," Iguodala tells CNBC. "They've kind of taken me under their wing and ... showed me some things in the portfolio and how I can integrate my brand into some of their brands."
He has even met Warren Buffett, he tells CNBC: "I've been able to meet interesting people who have helped me. And, in turn, I want to help out my fellow NBA players." That is part of the reason why he leads an annual Players Technology Summit with teammate Steph Curry.
The goal of the summit is to "give our players many options post-retirement," says Iguodala, "because there's many, many years of life when you're not playing."
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