Power Players

How NBA Knicks star Enes Kanter spent his first big basketball paycheck

In the 2018-19 basketball season, New York Knicks center Enes Kanter is set to make $18.6 million.

But Kanter remembers what he splurged on when first started making money at 16, and playing basketball in Europe.

"I got my first paycheck from my club team and I was super excited. I took my friends to eat pizza," Kanter, who is originally from Turkey and was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Knicks in 2017, tells CNBC Make It.

Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks shoots a free throw against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 6, 2018.
Cameron Browne | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks shoots a free throw against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 6, 2018.

At the time, dinner out with friends was a big expenditure, says Kanter.

As for how he spent his first NBA paycheck after her was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2011? It's hard for him to remember.

"Probably rent a house or something," he tells CNBC Make It in September in Manhattan at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a conference of human rights activists, tech entrepreneurs and global leaders. In addition to being a professional basketball player, Kanter is a human rights advocate.

Kanter didn't even splurge when he was signed with the Knicks. "I didn't buy anything big," Kanter says.

The one thing Kanter says he refuses to pay for is expensive bling. "I don't really go around and spend thousands and thousands of dollars on jewelry," says the 6-foot-11 basketball player. "I know my teammates [do]."

Kanter says when his teammates tell him to buy pricey jewelry, his thought is: "My gosh, this is not very smart," he tells CNBC Make It.

Kanter admits he has made mistakes with his finances, though: "I bought a house in Oklahoma City and as soon as I bought I'm like, 'What am I doing? It's Oklahoma City?' You know… it's an amazing city but I'm not there summertime and during the season I'm only there for like three and a half months so I'm like why did I buy buy this house?"

Kanter did sell the house, but it took him two years and he lost a small amount of money on the investment, he says.

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