How do NBA Players Spend Their Free Time?

When you think about it, NBA players spend more than half of a calendar year playing basketball. Sure, that’s what they get paid for. But in between the preseason, the regular season and the playoffs, the average baller has very little free time.

And even when NBA players are free, they are pressure to spend the time improve their skills or do anything related to basketball. That said, many NBA superstars also do things not related to the game. Here’s what they do.

Shooting Commercials

One of the perks of being a successful NBA player is that you get calls to appear in commercials frequently. From shoe and fashion lines to deodorants and beverages, nearly all companies love to feature famous players in their adverts.

And due to that, NBA players have been starring in commercials for decades. Among active players, Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Kawhi Leonard lead the pack of superstars who feature in commercials almost every year. 

Some commercials seek to inspire young fans to be like their superstar athlete heroes. Others are hilarious, informative or unnervingly bland. Either way, adverts help NBA players make some extra money and get involved in something else besides basketball.

Acting in Movies

If you grew up in the 80s, you probably remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane, Ask Mask or Troop Beverly Hills. If you are a 90s kid, you have some memories of He Got Game, Space Jam and My Wife and Kids—all featuring Mike Jordan.

Since 2000, a lot more NBA players have got into acting, some who’ve directed and starred in their own movies. Take Kyrie Irving’s Uncle Drew as an example. 

Is it the best NBA movie ever? No, but’s it’s well-done and brought together several legends to film a pretty hilarious flick. Apart from Kyrie, King James, Ray Allen, and Shaquille O’Neal are other legendary NBA figures who love to act.

Partying in Las Vegas

Too much money at a young age usually means a lot of partying in Las Vegas, at least if you are an NBA player. Of course, it also means having to pay for drinks and clubs whenever you visit Las Vegas with friends.

For Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and JR Smith, Las Vegas is less about partying and more of gambling. Jordan loves poker while Barkley plays a mix of table games. Smith has never revealed his favorite games but he spends up to $15,000 at casinos.

Jordan also dabbles on sports betting, from golf and boxing to football and suitcases. You heard that right. The man many refer to as the GOAT dared his Olympics teammates to bet on whose luggage would come out first at the airport. 

He won $900 from the wager, partly because he had bribed stadium workers to put his bag first in line. Jordan has also made other random bets, some of which he’s been accused of failing to pay.

Streaming Video Games on Twitch

For some NBA players, free time means streaming NBA 2K, Fortnite, Call of Duty or League of Legends on Twitch. Lucky for them, famous streamers are some of the most-followed people on the Amazon-owned platform. 

Below is an overview of popular NBA Twitch streamers and what games they broadcast:

  • Karl Anthony Towns—PUBG
  • Gordon Hayward—StarCraft II, LOL
  • De’Aaron Fox—Dragon Ball FighterZ, Street Fighter V, Injustice 2
  • Devin Booker—Apex Legends, NBA 2K

With too much money from the NBA, most superstars opt not to monetize their Twitch channels. A few sell their merchandise on the platform but many of them stream with no intention to make money off the platform. 


When you think of rich athletes, Mike Jordan comes to mind. Not only is he the richest NBA player but he was the first athlete to become a billionaire. His biggest investment lies in owning the majority shares of Charlotte Hornets and his Jordan sneaker empire.

MJ aside, Lebron James is also an excellent businessman. He’s worth $400 million, a huge chunk of which he’s made from endorsement deals with Coca Cola, Nike, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Next up is Magic Johnson who’s worth an incredible $600 million according to Forbes. Similar to Jordan and Lebron, Magic didn’t make all of his money from the NBA. Instead, it’s his business deals that earned him his fortune.

Other NBA players with laudable successes in business are Shaq, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, and Steph Curry. 

Exotic Vacations

As Jeremy Lin once revealed, many NBA players love to travel. But due to their tight schedules, they are limited to local attraction sites. Sometimes their tours just involve sampling restaurants in cities where they play or going out with friends. 

Of course, the superstars get more free time in the offseason or after retirement. And during these periods, they get to travel the world, from the Bahamas and Brazil to Iceland and the Philippines. 

In case you are wondering, below is a list of exotic places NBA superstars have been to:

  • Lebron James—Positano, Italy
  • Michael Jordan—Michael Jordan
  • Lonzo Ball—Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Blake Griffin—Hvar, Croatia
  • Steph Curry—Saint-Tropez, France

Still on vacations, it’s worth noting that NBA superstars usually use holiday tours as channels for bonding with their families. They mostly do that in the offseason, when they are free. 

Community Work

Some of the most famous NBA players came from humble backgrounds. As a result, they often feel obliged to give back to their communities. Russell Westbrook, for example, spent last Christmas feeding over 10,000 kids in the Oklahoma area.

Back home, LA Lakers’ Paul Gasol spends his time inspiring young children to make it to the NBA. Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, on the other end, spends a lot of time with sports-related channels.

Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Lebron James also have plenty of contributions to local communities. James, in particular, has meant over $10 million in charities, including a school in his hometown of Okra, Ohio.