Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris is investing in his life after basketball — Andscape
When the basketball isn’t bouncing, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris has money on his mind in a very intelligent way.
Harris isn’t the stereotypical pro athlete spending his money on luxury items. Rather, Harris is trying to figure out a way to expand his business empire to make more cash. Harris hopes that financial literacy advances among African Americans as well, but come Sunday, Harris will be all basketball as his Sixers will visit the Boston Celtics for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I spend a lot of time on my craft and basketball, but outside of that is life after basketball at some point,” Harris, who is averaging 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds against Boston, told Andscape. “I’m always learning about financial industry. I spent a lot of my time doing a lot of research just on ways to expand my knowledge in many different classes of finance. So those are interesting things to me.”
Harris received his main financial inspiration from his father and agent Torrel Harris. Torrel Harris is the chairman of Unique Sports Management International, a pro athlete representative firm that includes his son as a client. Harris has managed athletes’ lifestyles, negotiated contracts, conducted financial planning, provided career counseling, landed brand endorsements and offered marketing strategies for such clients as Basketball Hall of Famers George Gervin and Lynette Woodard, and former NBA players Cliff Robertson, Lewis Lloyd, Mark Davis and Gene Banks. Tobias Harris also grew up watching his dad operate successful urban clothing businesses he owned in Long Island, New York.
Tobias Harris has made roughly $211.5 million during his 12-year NBA career that has also included stops with the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers before the Sixers. The Sixers’ player union representative is involved in real estate and owns Crumbl Cookie franchises in the Philadelphia area and Evans, Georgia.
Torrel Harris is very impressed by his son’s business accomplishments.
“Tobias has always been smart,” Torrell Harris told Andscape. “Smart in high school. He had a 3.8 GPA. He was really concerned about when he retires and saving his money. He made $6 million gross on his rookie scale contract. And half of that, $3 million, goes to the government. He saved $2.3 million off his rookie scale contract.
“He’s always made good investments, even till this day. There is a franchise that he owns. He has a lot of equity in companies. He’s just a smart kid who realizes that after basketball his life really starts in the business world. He’s always positioned himself to be at a different level when his basketball career is over with.”
The following is a Q&A with Tobias Harris talking about his secrets to his financial success, thoughts on generational wealth, his father’s financial influence, financial literacy for fellow African Americans, the Sixers’ hopes of winning a NBA title, his role with Philadelphia and much more.
What have you learned about the business world from the NBA?
Honestly, when you come into the league, you hear all the stories about financial issues for a lot of guys who played. So, for me, I always came in and looked at it like, yeah, you go out there and you hoop and you spend and you invest in your ability. But outside of that, it’s a big responsibility to not mess up what you’ve been blessed to have.
So, I’m always learning about what I’m doing, No. 1. I’m not passive. I want to know exactly what’s going on, everything, all the ins and outs. So, it takes a lot of research. Because you are in business, you are your own office at the end of the day.
Was there any person that inspired you financially?
Not necessarily, but you hear all the stories all the time about how much money you’re coming into and how easy it goes. You learn as well. So, I never wanted to be in that type of situation. So, I just took responsibility on my own portfolio to know what’s going on and how I can grow it at the end of the day.
Was your father and your family of any influence financially?
Yeah, always. My dad was an entrepreneur and had his own business and still does have his own business. But I learned a lot just through that. And ownership is huge. And just the due diligence that he had to make as well to have his own company and for that company to be successful.
So, yeah, I learned a lot from him in that regard as well. And that’s really where my taste for work came about. He was in business, so that was always something that I saw and knew about.
So, you’re already thinking post-NBA businesswise at the age of 30 with presumably a lot of basketball left?
Outside of basketball, yeah. But for me it’s about gaining experience, learning, and seeing things that may interest me. You could only learn those things through experiences.
You made $1.4 million with the Bucks during your rookie season 12 years ago. What do you remember about your first NBA check?
I just remember it hitting my bank account and showing my mom and she was like, ‘You’ve made in one month what I’ve made in a full year.’ So, I just remember having that conversation and understanding, that’s a huge, huge responsibility to take care of that and to learn about it. You try to advise a lot of these guys to learn about what you have … Most guys have advisers and things like that. But get in those rooms as well. Learn about your whole entity, really.
You went to the University of Tennessee for a school year. How did educate yourself on business?
YouTube, podcasts, speaking with different mentors. Yeah, that’s all that right there. Speaking, getting in the rooms, having conversations, not being afraid to ask a dumb question, being engaging, getting outside of my own box of learning and understanding. So having vets that taught me as well, different sectors to be a part of.
What was your biggest financial thing that you kick yourself about now?
Nothing really. Everything’s a growing experience you learn about, so I have no regrets in that regard. I’ve been very conservative, but now, the past three, four years I’ve started to get into different projects and whatnot. And I’ve invested in different companies that have failed and some have done very good. So, you have to take the L’s with the wins, for sure.
How about your biggest success?
Myself, betting on myself. That’s the biggest success, for sure.
For a player that is a rookie, a young player that comes up to you, what advice would you give him financially, and as a Black man, too?
To learn what’s going on. Get into the books, read, figure out what it is you’re into. Study people who have had success in different sectors. Get out, speak, ask your vets what’s going on. Ask people what to expect, what they’re into. It’s always a great topic of conversation that people like to talk about.
Is financial literacy a subject that African Americans need to get more well-versed in?
Everybody should. But of course, especially for us. To have this talent, to be compensated this type of way, it takes a lot of responsibility to learn about what’s going on. You have a chance to improve your generations going forward and give them good opportunities.
Do you have any other hobbies?
I’m a big wellness guy, so I take a lot of time to make sure that my mind and body and soul are always on the right path and ever-learning and ever-growing.
Have the Sixers been slept on this season?
I don’t think people are sleeping on us. As a collective group in our locker room, we’re in a good groove right now, continuing to figure out ways to be at our best and to win.
How do you view your impact on the Sixers?
My impact is just to be ready every single night, whatever opportunity is presented to take advantage of it. But at the same time, just be stable for the group, be efficient with whatever looks that I get on the floor, defend and do all the little things as well. Be a leader for our guys. Be professional, that’s always been my role in this league, and continue to find other ways to be impactful.