Sometimes in the NBA, teams get roped into paying up-and-coming talent millions of dollars over the course of many years, only for that player to crumble under the pressure of a new contract, or simply give up trying after being paid, turning that $100 million over 5 years into a huge black hole for the franchise’s cap room.
Players such as Luol Deng — who has barely played for the Lakers despite his exorbitant contract — and Chandler Parsons are two players who are considered to own some of the worst contracts in the NBA today, but at least those two will stop being paid by the year 2020 — a measly amount of time compared to the following player.
Luther Wright was a 7’2 center out of Seton Hall who was drafted with the 18th pick in the 1993 NBA draft, a draft which included the likes of Chris Webber, Penny Hardaway, and Sam Cassell.
Wright was selected by the Utah Jazz to play behind starting center Felton Spencer, and perhaps alongside backup power forward Tom Chambers to form a nice backup frontcourt for when Karl Malone sat out.
Despite his draft position and above-average sophomore season at Seton Hall, Wright’s stint in the NBA would be anything but successful.
After playing in only 15 games for the Jazz and only averaging 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds across those games, Wright would be found by Salt Lake City police destroying property and causing a disturbance at a rest area just outside Salt Lake City in late January.
Luther would be diagnosed with bipolar disorder — A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs — during his NBA career, and after the 1993-94 NBA season had finished for the Jazz, Wright would be admitted into a mental institution for a 30-day stay.
Because Wright never completed his rookie season, let alone the length of his contract due to pretty rare circumstances, the Utah Jazz front office decided to do the right thing and beginning in 1996, elected to pay Wright the remainder of his owed earnings from his NBA career over a 25-year period, equalling out to $153,000 a year up until 2021.
Since then, Wright has fortunately turned things around, via Deseret News:
Wright, who is an recovering drug addict, has earned a job at Seton Hall, his alma mater. He wants to be an inspiration to others: “I want my legacy to be ‘Luther Wright changed, so why you can’t change?'” he said.