You might be unfazed by a new study that told you the average player in the NBA—where the average salary last season was $4 million and the median salary was just shy of $2 million—spends $42,500 a month. (Give him another week and he’ll spend more than the median American household earns in a year: $51,939, according to 2014 Census bureau stats.) But would you be surprised to learn that he spends much of that money on that essential staple of suburban strip malls, the clothing brand Express? Or that Express was the brand these NBA players spent the most money on, by a long shot—nearly three times as much as the closest competitor, Whole Foods? That these guys with earnings beyond mortal comprehension are actually rocking clothes comparable to what I wore to look nice at bar mitzvahs?
These curious findings come courtesy of a wealth management company called Personal Capital, which supplied data for this San Francisco Chronicle item that might be confused for sponsored content. As the Chronicle reports, the league invited Personal Capital to deliver locker-room speeches on financial education and spread awareness of their online spending management tool. Over 50 players, “ranging from rookies to veterans,” chose to sign up for this tool and log all their spending between December and March. A decent sample of the league’s 450-plus players, but perhaps not a representative slice of it—just a self-selecting group of players who went out of their way to use this particular budgeting tool after hearing the seminars. Look at the results for yourself:
Let’s take “more than 50” to mean 60; the average player using this tool still dropped over $3,600 at Express. That’s good for 90 dress shirts (180 if you opt for the steepest sale). Maybe we are being misled by all the avant-garde clothing seen in pre-game entrances and post-game pressers, by Westbrook’s holey t-shirts and $995 denim jacket. Maybe this is the shit they actually love to wear.
Express is of note because it figures in the holy trinity of brands that cement Steph Curry’s off-court regular-guy corniness: orthopedic-looking Under Armour sneakers that only a dad could love, Brita water filters for filtering plain-ass water, Express apparel. But if we believe these results, he is not alone in his appreciation of the brand, an anomaly among these luxury names, airlines, department stores, internal revenue services, etc. (Most surprising is Amazon’s low rank—I envisioned players with flush Amazon Prime accounts overnighting every basic necessity to avoid highly visible trips to the supermarket.)
One way to make sense of this result is to assume that the players have diffuse enough tastes in high-end clothing, so that their spending patterns only coalesced around this one widely distributed, middle-market brand. Another is that they heap up shiny dress shirts like the Great Gatsby and leap into them like leaf piles, and/or set them aflame for bonfires.