Jayson Williams Discusses Life After The NBA Draft
When it comes to the NBA Draft, the number you are and how good the other guys are can determine the amount of pressure put on you.
In 1984, Michael Jordan was the third pick in the draft and went to the Chicago Bulls. The two top picks before him went to Houston and Portland. Then in 1996, Kobe Bryant was the number 13 pick and went to Charlotte. These being two of the best basketball players of all time had put pressure on the guys who were picked before them. Halfway through the first season, you’re able to start seeing what the players can do. When a player who was drafted behind you starts playing better than you, they start to feel the pressure. When you’re not playing well and you’re a higher pick, everybody’s going to start second-guessing you. This pressure that the NBA puts on an athlete to preform is tremendous, and I’ve seen guys that could never recover from that. Since the NBA can put a lot of pressure on someone, you need to have good family support to back you and encourage you. For me, I’ve always had my family’s support during my NBA career.
In 1990 during the NBA draft I didn’t go to Madison Square Garden, instead I went to coach Carnesecca’s office. Since I broke my foot my senior year, my agent said I could go anywhere from five to 25. But all my dad heard was five. He kept saying to his friends “Five, my son’s going five.” I knew I wasn’t going five, I knew I was going to go higher. I didn’t want to go down to Madison Square Garden and embarrass my dad, so I said I’m going to watch it right here, at St. John’s University, in coach Carnesecca’s office. I’ll never forget, my dad was sitting three rows behind me and coach Carnesecca was sitting with me and holding my hand.
When number five came up my dad said, “Ugh! Oh lord,” because they didn’t pick my name. Then number seven was up and he would look up and say, “Don’t worry son you’ll be next,” then number nine came up and he said, “Don’t worry son you’ll be next.” Once we got to number 15 and 17, the Knicks had a choice and they went “Ja—Jerrod Mustaf” and my father was like, “OWW come on!” And he said, “Don’t worry son you’ll be next.” I do a double take and I look back, and see he’s telling my mother, “Barbara, I told you that son of yours, that son of a bitch is going to have me laying bricks the rest of my life. He won’t ever get drafted.”
In the end, I was the 21st pick and was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. At 21 years old I was given a contract for $500,000, with a $50,000 advance right after I graduated from St. John’s.
So, still being a kid, I bought everything from a house, to leasing cars, to opening up businesses such as: restaurants, car shops and car washes. My first year I made $500,000, but that first year I also spent $500,000. The only people I forgot to buy something for were the IRS. Also I had to pay back the $50,000 with 15% interest right before the season started. On top of that my agent was getting 4% for the contract and another 6% for the books.
When my father found out about my agent taking 6% to do the bills, he said he would just do it himself. Now, my father didn’t get a full education and he wanted to handle the bills. During an interview on a morning talk show I said, “Dad, you never finished school.” He said, “I finished fourth grade in 1943, that’s all they had up to in the deep south — so I finished.” So I had my dad, with a fourth grade education paying my bills.
Since I spent so much money that first year, I had to get a loan on my second year money. This was just to help pay to keep me afloat after my first year.
At the end of the season, I asked Charles Barkley how much money we will make during the playoffs. He said around $55,000. I thought “Woo, I’m back in.”
Instead of doing the responsible thing and putting my money away, I decided to go to Puerto Rico to find my recently deceased sister’s kids, who were living with their father. So I brought 17 people to Puerto Rico with me. On our way back, we’re on the airplane and everyone has a pillowcase filled with booze. I asked, “Where did you get all that?”
Apparently, they would take everything out of the refrigerator in the hotel rooms; two or three times a day, everyday. So there we are, 17 people each with a bag filled with stuff from the hotel refrigerators to bring home. When the bill comes to the house, my father runs upstairs and says, “Son, someone stole your American Express and they took 17 peoples to Puerto Ricos. But don’t worry about it, I was on the phone with the company and they had to know someone stole the card, because no man in his right mind would take 17 peoples to Puerto Ricos [sic].” I told him that it was me who did it and said, “Don’t worry, Barkley said we’re gonna make $55K,” My father responded, saying “JP Getty doesn’t spend $55,000 in one week.”
When the playoff check comes, my father starts cursing. He says, “Hey mister world traveler, it ain’t $55,000 it’s $5,500.”
The one thing the NBA did do was hold a rookie seminar. This was a mandatory meeting where financial speakers came to talk to us about how you should invest your money and everything else. These seminars were a farce and ineffective, at least when I was there; the financial people who came in were nervous and had no charisma. Guys would sneak out to go to the bathroom and wouldn’t come back. I don’t think the top ten guys who got picked even went to that. What you really need for this to work are NBA players who have been in the ringer. The more trouble they’ve been in the more interesting it will be, and it will hold these guys’ attention. Thirteen years later, players are still not getting it.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James in 2003, he ended up putting all of his salary checks for the whole season into the glove compartment of his car. He never cashed them and was just living off his endorsements.
One piece of advice is to trust the draft. The draft sends you to where you belong. They make a mockup of a psychological test/profile, to determine if you should play in a certain part of the country and pass the information onto the NBA. If they can help it, then that’s where you’ll get drafted. For me personally, they knew I was a party animal, they had to get me out of New York. So they sent me to Phoenix because I was too crazy in New York City.
I think some of the most important things to remember when drafted are to lean on your parents or the people who have solely raised you. Trust in their opinions; bring them to the meetings with you and to keep it simple. Also, make basketball your primary focus, and all other things will come. Don’t go out trying to buy all sorts of expensive things your first year.
Everyone goes out there and buys expensive cars, tries to run businesses and be barber shop guys, car wash guys and hire their cousin ‘Mookie,’ and it brings stress in their lives. Just play basketball, be professional, stay out of trouble, and all good things will happen.
Jayson Williams and Charles Oakley discuss today’s NBA
When Jayson Williams was the Senior Captain at St. Johns, he met legendary New York Knick, Charles Oakley. The two had huge battles on the court and have been good friends ever since. We sat down with Williams and Oakley to talk about their friendship, the draft and today’s NBA.
Jayson Williams meets Charles Oakley:
Jayson Williams on bad investments:
Charles Oakley and Jayson Williams discuss the draft and the current state of the NBA: