10 NBA Players Whose Careers Suffered From Off-The-Court Problems

07.08.13 6 years ago
Bust. It’s a word we throw around a lot, but haven’t been able to distinctly define. Our typical classification is a seemingly promising prospect that was either (a) placed in the wrong situation, (b) plagued by injury or (c) just immensely overhyped. They are often looked at as the most disappointing bunch, but I don’t see it that way. What about the players that we knew could perform at the highest level and others who DID perform at the highest level but couldn’t sustain it? What about the guys who had all the tools, but just couldn’t keep their lives together long enough to fulfill all of their potential?

There are busts, and then there are those guys — players who had all the skill in the world, but just couldn’t keep their heads on straight and finished with untapped potential. Through a combination of huge paychecks, high-profile living and bad decisions, they forfeited parts, and sometimes all, of what could’ve been storied careers. We knew they could perform, we knew all the tools were there, but we often just didn’t see the consistency that turned forgettable players into stars, and stars into absolute legends. To me, it’s those players who frustrate fans the most. We were teased, but then betrayed by them because of selfish actions. Here are 10 players that fell apart and saw their careers suffer from off-the-court problems…

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A highly-touted prospect out of Bakersfield High School in California, Swift bypassed offers from USC and UCLA to go straight to the pros. He was acclaimed for his great shooting touch and ability to dominate the glass, but it was known that he was still very raw. The Sonics decided to take him 12th overall in 2004 and develop the big man into a serviceable center. After playing sparingly in his rookie campaign, he began to receive more minutes and even started 20 games. Per 36 minutes, he was nearly averaging a double-double at just 20 years old.

Unfortunately, Swift’s career took a turn for the worse. Injuries began plaguing him and he struggled to demonstrate any type of consistency. He was out of the league at 23, an age that should have marked the beginning of success for the former first-rounder. After falling off the face of the Earth for three years, his name resurfaced for all the wrong reasons. After declaring bankruptcy and facing foreclosure, Swift squatted in his Washington home until he was forced out. What he left behind was a career unfulfilled, with beer bottles, prescription pills and amateur accolades lining the residence. The house was in such poor shape, it only sold at half of its original value. Swift’s home, and life, had fallen apart.

After making three All-Star teams in his first seven seasons, the former sixth overall pick looked poised to be the face of the Celtics, along with Paul Pierce, for years to come. However, he was traded just before the 2003-04 season by new club executive Danny Ainge in a deal that shocked the league.

Though he still had moderate success during the rest of his career, Walker was plagued by problems off the court that ended his stint in the league prematurely at age 31. In 2009, he was cited for a DUI. Later that year, it was revealed that Walker accrued over $800,000 in gambling debts. In 2010, Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with debts in excess of $12.7 million. He attempted a comeback that same year, but couldn’t make it past the D-League.

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