Real World Advice: Harrison Barnes


While reading The Atlantic this month, I came across an article on renaissance man Harrison Barnes. How refreshing is it to read about an athlete that understand that:

#1 professional sports is a business

#2 as a player (instead of an owner) you are a piece of meat that is being used to build wealth for others

#3 as a player you have a brand that can be leveraged to build wealth of your own

“The NBA is a business,” Barnes told me, elaborating that players are akin to pieces of inventory that, if they don’t produce, get replaced by other pieces that do. “But on the brighter side,” he added, “you do gain a lot of capital, and you have a platform from which you have avenues to do just about anything you want to do.” Indeed, Barnes seems amazed that more basketball players don’t take advantage of those avenues. “I think if anybody has an opportunity to play professional basketball,” he said, “to not transcend that into off-the-court endeavors is really a waste.” Click here to read the whole article.

Plenty of young people desire to be a professional athlete, which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but too many of them don’t understand, or use to their advantage, the business side of things. I’d like to go on a long tirade about this, but instead I’ll direct your attention to the Wisdom & Folly Blog of Jim & Amy Spiegel:

I’ve been thinking about an alarming statistic associated with the league:  78% of  former NFL players either go bankrupt or experience severe financial distress.  This is astounding because the base salary for rookies is $310,000, and this is bumped up to $460,000 after two years.  The statistics for NBA players aren’t much cheerier: 60% go bankrupt within five years of retirement.

Now, now all you high school and college athletes .. . don’t get all worried on me. Like any problem there are many solutions. Here are a few links to information on how what do with all that money:

U.S. News A Plan to Prevent Professional Athletes (and You) from Going Broke

Cosmoloan 6 Main Reasons Most Pro Athletes Go Broke


Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on,, and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit



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