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Michael Olowokandi Busted in the NBA, But Walked Away Rich
AP Photo/Nick Ut, File

Michael “The Kandi Man” Olowokandi will go down as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. He’ll also go down as one of the tallest.

A 7-foot mountain, Olowokandi is a basketball player’s ideal size. He began shooting hoops later in life than most college basketball players, but most college basketball players aren’t seven feet tall.

Olowokandi’s sizeable potential convinced the Los Angeles Clippers to pick Olowokandi, who is British-Nigerian, No. 1 overall in the 1998 NBA Draft. Olowokandi turned out to be nothing more than a Big Bust. But the move to L.A. wasn’t a total bust for Olowokandi — he at least got an IMDB page out of the deal. 

Despite his reputation as one of the biggest mistakes in NBA history, this bust boasts a boisterous bank account. This is the tall tale of Michael Olowokandi and his surprisingly large net worth.

Early Life & College Career

Michael Olowokandi’s birth date is April 3, 1975He was born in Lagos, Nigeria while the No. 1 song in America was “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton. There was never anything mini about Michael Olowokandi.

Nigeria may be his birthplace, but The Kandi Man was raised in London. After a short stint at Brunel University, Olowokandi moved to California to join the University of the Pacific Tigers on a basketball scholarship. 

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Olowokandi played three years for the Pacific Tigers in Stockton, California. The towering Brit led the Tigers to an NCAA Tournament run in ’97 and an NIT run his senior year in ’98. 

With big numbers and a big frame, the center was set for big fame as an NBA player in the big city of Los Angeles.

Michael Olowokandi: No. 1 Pick

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With the first-overall pick in the draft, the L.A. Clippers made Michael Olowokandi a professional basketball player in 1998. It had been his lifelong dream for three years.

Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, and Dirk Nowitzki were all selected after Olowokandi. Big Mike would have to perform pretty well just to not be considered a bust with a line-up like that behind him.

The Kandi Man’s time in The Association was a Series of Unfortunate Events on par with Lemony Snicket. First, there was the whole 1998-99 NBA lockout debacle. The lockout sent Olowokandi to the Italian Basketball League with Kinder Bologna. When Olowokandi heard the news, he asked for his on rye.

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When NBA teams agreed to pay NBA players better, their agreement ended the extended offseason. Olowokandi said “Ciao!” to Bologna but brought some of the deli meat back with him to California in the form of his defense.

Olowokandi’s game and attitude stunk so bad that even Donald Sterling couldn’t stand him. The Kandi Man joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as a free agent in 2003. By then, knee problems had made Kandi’s game sour for years.

He was traded from Minnesota to the Boston Celtics as part of a multi-player trade during the 2005-2006 season. Olowokandi played 40 games for the Celtics and retired after the 06-07 season. 

He may not have lived up to his potential on the court, but he didn’t live poorly. Olowokandi was well compensated for falling well below expectations

Michael Olowokandi Net Worth

Michael Olowokandi’s net worth is an estimated $20 million.

Rumor has it that The Kandi Man chose Pacific University (and therefore began his path to professional basketball) by playing phonebook roulette with his eyes closed.

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His blind gamble has paid off way better than most. He picked the winning lottery numbers that day, even if he does count his millions in pounds.

Kandi’s sweet $20 million isn’t the only impressive number in his career. Let’s take a look at the stat sheet:

The Kandi Man giveth… and he giveth, and he giveth, and he giveth. His NBA career was taken away from him too soon. Would injuries have plagued him so had he begun professional level conditioning at a younger age? Perhaps… perhaps not. 

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Resting his oversized head on the softest pillow $20 million can buy, I doubt Michael Olowokandi is losing any sleep about what could’ve been.

MORE: Kenny George Was a 7-foot-7 Beast, But Where is He Now?

Daniell Marlow is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He lives to write and writes to eat. Daniell is a Georgia Bulldog with a California Shih-Tzu.
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