Spend

NBA star Klay Thompson says his first paycheck was 'more money than I could ever think of'—here's what he bought

Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors holds the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals
Jesse D. Garrabrant | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Klay Thompson remembers the number on his first NBA paycheck: $35,000. "It was incredible," he told Maverick Carter on an episode of Uninterrupted's "Kneading Dough."

It's a fraction of what the basketball star earns today — he signed a five year, $190 million contract with the Golden State Warriors in 2019 — but at the time, it was "more money than I could ever think of," he recalled.

The first thing he bought was a pool table. "I still have that to this day," said Thompson, who was 21 when he was drafted to the NBA in 2011. The Warriors selected him No. 11 overall and he earned a little over $2 million his first season.

His lifestyle didn't change much after transitioning from playing in college, where he got a small stipend in 2011 during his junior year from Washington State University, to the big leagues. "It's not like that money made me happier," he told Carter. "It was great to see that check, but I lived such a great life at the time on my $1,100-a-month stipend. That went so far. I could get as much Taco Del Mar as I wanted. I could go to Target and have a field day."

Even today, after nearly a decade in the league and having collected three NBA Championships with the Warriors, "I'm pretty simple," Thompson said. "My tastes aren't that extravagant."

He's learned to be intentional about what he buys. An early money mistake he made was filling his closet with unnecessary clothes to keep up with the NBA styles: "I would only wear about 5% of the closet."

Thompson isn't the only NBA player to admit to going all-out on wardrobe items. His teammate, Andre Iguodala, headed straight to Niketown after receiving his first big check and bought "a whole bunch of pairs of Jordans," he told Wealthsimple. "I spent like two or three grand and it felt like I spent a million dollars. I didn't know how to spend money."

Today, Thompson spends his millions on experiences or things that add value to his and other people's lives. His latest splurge was a boat, he told Cater: "I know I'm going to get use out of it because the water brings me peace." Plus, "with my foundation, I'm going to have the ability to take kids out to go fishing, which is really cool to me," added Thompson, who launched an organization to enrich the lives of kids in the U.S. and the Bahamas through fitness and education.

Ultimately, "Wealth is a mindset," he said. "If you have relationships and experiences around you, those are priceless. That's better than any car or big house you can get."

Don't miss: Celtics star Jayson Tatum saves 100% of his $7.8 million NBA salary

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