James Worthy delivers financial words of wisdom

James Worthy

James Worthy delivers financial words of wisdom
September 22
09:00 2016

Photo by Tevin Stinson



More than 200 business professionals, elected officials and other members of the community had a lunch they will never forget on Wednesday, Sept. 14, as they enjoyed a meal with basketball legend and member of the Hall of Fame, James Worthy, at the Benton Convention Center.

“It’s imperative in our community that we teach our kids early. We have to teach them about living within your means,” Worthy said.

A native of Gastonia, Worthy’s talents earned him a scholarship to play for the UNC Tar Heels. After earning the Most Outstanding Player award for the NCAA Final Four in 1982, Worthy was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers where he would go on to have a stellar career, complete with three NBA championships in 1985, 1987 and 1988. He was also named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1988.

At the time of his retirement in 1994, Worthy was known as one of the most decorated players in NBA history. In 1996 he was selected as one of the leagues top 50 players of all time, along with other greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.

Worthy’s visit to the city was part of the Financial Pathways of the Piedmont’s (FPP) annual luncheon designed to raise funds for the non-profit agency that provides professional consumer education and comprehensive financial and housing guidance to all members of the community.

Over the years, FPP has directly helped more than 10,000 families resolve debt, learn to budget, and to use credit wisely.

As he stood before the hundreds of people in attendance to deliver the keynote address, Worthy applauded FPP for everything they do to ensure residents know how to deal with debt, lost jobs or low wages, and most importantly, how to save. He said as a member of the L.A. Lakers coaching staff, he tries to instill the same lessons into young up and coming talent in the NBA.

“The NBA needs a program like Financial Pathways. I hate to see young kids get a contract and the first thing they do is buy five Mercedes Benz,” continued Worthy. “They think they’re making a million dollars, but they don’t understand that after taxes that’s only about $490,000.”

Worthy noted his college coach, the legendary Dean Smith, understood that and prepared his players for life after basketball. He said Smith would say all the time that making it to the NBA was the easy part, staying there and managing your finances was the hard part.

“Finances are things that trickle down. If you are somewhat financially sound and your credit score is good, you are a healthier person,” said Worthy. “But if you are struggling a little bit or spending outside of your means, it’s always a challenge. You get stressed.”

Before leaving the stage, Worthy said when dealing with finances, you have to listen, learn, understand, and put forth some effort. He said, “No one expects us to be tax returners, but we should know what we want and what our goals are. That requires a lot of commitment to the philosophy,” he continued. “When you talk to your financial adviser, you have to take time to understand what the play is. Sometimes listening is the most important thing.”

Using his playing days with the Tar Heels as an example, Worthy said Smith was real big on listening. He said when you listen, you get details, and knowing the details allows you to put a plan in motion to reach your goal.

“I didn’t understand everything Coach Smith asked me to do, but I had to commit to something, even without understanding,” he said. “That’s the same way you should be when talking with you financial adviser.”

After his address, Worthy took questions from the audience about his playing career and the current state of professional basketball. Following the event, Ashley Rusher, member of the FPP Board of Directors thanked Worthy for his words of encouragement.

“We are grateful that Mr. Worthy took the time to come speak with us today. I took a lot of things away from his speech that I will look to implement into my everyday life.”

For more information on Financial Pathways of the Piedmont or to learn how to become more financially stable, visit their website at

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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