“Rise, Fall and Rebound,” part 2: Joe Smith squanders NBA fortune


NORFOLK (WAVY) – In 1995, Joe Smith heard then-NBA commissioner David Stern call his name first. Smith had been selected number one overall, and not long after signed a three-year contract worth $8.5 million with the Golden State Warriors. 

His NBA career was off and running.

Over a 16-year career, Smith, a Norfolk native and Maury High School graduate, made $61 million. “What people might not know, each year, your contract goes up, even throughout a six-year deal,” explained Smith. 

“Every year that contract goes up a percentage. So, it’s like, whatever you spent, you’re getting it right back.”

At least, that was his thinking. 

Smith played for 12 teams, and used cash to buy all but one home in each city he was traded to. Unable to unload those homes, and along with purchasing extravagance like jewelry and cars, Smith lost all but $3,000 of his fortune.

“Just careless,” said Smith.  “Just making decisions and going with it; lose something, replace it, and stuff like that. Dumb stuff.” 

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