Life after the NBA has been sweet for many, while others have found their great fortunes evaporating like magic. It’s all glory and greatness for a handful of years, on average. On the upside, the NBA offers one of the most generous retirement plans of all sports, second only to MLB. Vested after just three years (if they make it that long) and compensated with 140% matching funds to their NBA 401k contributions, it’s enviable.
On the other hand, the average retirement age finds players barely in their 30s, while their salary and retirement must last the rest of their lives. Luckily, with fame and name appeal, many are able to launch into a new career with an alley-oop slam dunk. Just think of Shaq and his expansive menu of corporate brands from which to promote with his trademark smile. And what about his Hollywood contact list? It must be like a laundry list of top agents and producers. So, what have the rest done? How have other NBA greats transitioned from the courts and lights lifestyle to real life? Take a look at these awe-inspiring retirement stories.
Junior Bridgeman – Fast Food Franchise Investor
This Hall of Fame NBA forward and shooting guard enjoyed a stellar basketball career, but, arguably, doubled his accomplishments outside of the court. Drafted by the Lakers in 1975, Bridgeman was then swept off to the Milwaukee Bucks where he enjoyed a solid 12-year career. However, in the decades since he left the league, he’s made millions more slam dunking within the fast food industry.
In 1988 the Bucks retired Bridgeman’s jersey and he was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. Meanwhile, Bridgeman, with his precision business acumen, invested in three Wendy’s franchises, learning the ropes of the franchise by working at a local Wendy’s. He now owns over 160 Wendy’s burger shops and more than 120 Chili’s restaurants. He’s the second largest Wendy’s franchise owner and one of the most successful post-professional sports athletes. Recently he has set his sights on another fast food must-have—Coca Cola. Bridgeman has been shifting his focus into distribution for the soda Goliath.