E’Twaun Moore has aspirations of being Junior Bridgeman.
It’s not just because of what they have in common — both men are from East Chicago, Ind., played in the same school district and have had NBA careers spanning more than a decade — but what Moore hopes to share with him too.
After Bridgeman left the NBA, he went on to have a lucrative business career. What started with a number of Wendy’s and Chili’s franchises — which he sold for $400 million in 2016, according to Reuters — has become a family company that owns Coca-Cola bottling plants and Ebony and Jet magazines. He is worth an estimated $600 million and is one of the wealthiest men on the planet to have played in the NBA.
Moore heard stories of the success Bridgeman had after his playing career and saw a role model in the 69-year-old executive. He wants to do just as well.
He has reached out to Bridgeman but has not been able to get in contact with him. Still, Bridgeman is a motivation for Moore.
“I want that to be my trajectory,” Moore told The Athletic. “And my goal.”
Moore was in his sixth season in the NBA, just 28 and in the prime of his career, when he really started thinking about his life after basketball. The thought came to him almost incidentally. OK, he told himself, you can’t do this forever.
He hadn’t really considered it before then. His life was almost completely consumed by the sport. He made it out of East Chicago and to Purdue, then stuck around the NBA as a 6-foot-3 combo guard even though he was just the 55th pick in the 2011 draft. Twenty-seven players in his draft class never made it to a sixth season; six never played in a game.
Time was a limited resource for Moore, and he spent it with only one thing in mind.
“You’re just thinking basketball, basketball,” he said. “How can you make basketball work?”
But that season, in New Orleans, he came to the realization that all NBA players eventually get to, sooner or later: His basketball career had an end date. It was eye-opening.
His family members had always asked what he would do after the NBA. They told him to take care of his money. Moore was thinking about it too.
Now at 33, Moore said that realization was an inflection point for him. After 11 seasons, stints on five teams and more than $42 million in earnings, Moore is out of the NBA. Those hypotheticals have become reality, and Moore believes he is thriving.
Moore hasn’t been on a roster since last February, when he was waived by the Magic, but he continues to work out and prepare himself in case a team calls. Still, he is realistic. While many players talk about life after the league, Moore prepared for it.
Today, Moore said his business interests are valued at roughly $40 million, after he invested $6 million to acquire them. He said he owns two McAlister’s Deli restaurants, has an executive transportation company in Orlando and rents out single-family homes in Indiana and New Orleans, and last year, he invested in a 600-unit multifamily real estate deal in Denton, Texas, near the University of North Texas. His most prominent deal is in Texas, where he is an investor in the development of Dallas Executive Airport. Moore was pulled into that project by his cousin and developer, Rodney Burchfield.
“That’s just getting started,” said Moore, who graduated from Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. “I want to try to get nine figures. I want to make way more off the court than I did playing basketball.”
It was Burchfield and Moore’s brother, he said, who pushed Moore to figure out his post-NBA plans. Over the last six years of his career, Moore received information about real estate or business ideas from Burchfield and began to learn about how that world operated. He was also helped out by his agent, Mark Bartelstein, and by his financial adviser, Paragon Sports, which he said helped him facilitate his deals.
He knew networking would be important. Fortunately, he said, playing in the NBA offers some benefits. Even having a blue verification checkmark on Twitter made it easier to reach out to others. They knew it was really him. He reached out to Marco’s Pizza on social media while he still played for them Pelicans and was able to start a conversation because of his platform.
“When you’re in the NBA, it’s definitely easier to get in touch with people,” he said. “Obviously you have a name, and credibility is a lot higher. To make it to the NBA and be successful, you have to be disciplined. You gotta work hard. I feel like that translates into any work environment or anything you want to do in life. … It’s definitely easier networking being an athlete.”
Fame can be a double-edged sword too. Moore said he’s had people reach out to ask for money for a business — an immediate red flag for him. He has tried to get to know everyone he partners with on a personal level in order to build a certain amount of trust.
Moore also is wary of what he calls “home run plays.” He tries to be patient in his investments and the opportunities he chases and cognizant of his own limits. If something seems too good to be true, he said, it probably is.
The day after the Magic let Moore go last February, Burchfield called and told him of a business opportunity. It was the Dallas airport deal.
“That might have been a blessing in disguise because I got to put all my time into business,” Moore said. “If I was traveling and (playing in the NBA), I would never have done this deal. … And they made $44 million; I’m going to make way more off the airport development project than I did playing.”
Moore tried to use his last few years in the NBA to be a sounding board for younger players. On his last three teams, he spoke to teammates about taking care of their money and being quick to trust. He’s speaking publicly about his off-court work because he wants to be an example. He said he grew up in government housing with little money. Now, he wants to provide generational wealth for his family.
It was advice he hadn’t heard early in his career. Gen Z players are already stocked with more entrepreneurs, and riches have come to many of them earlier in life, with NIL and larger salaries in their first few years in the league. Moore believes this new generation is already more reflective and business-minded.
“It’s starting off as a business before you even make it to the NBA, so you gotta protect what you have,” he said. “The earlier you can understand how to pay your bills, what interest rates are, the better you are.”
While Moore isn’t on an NBA roster, he doesn’t count himself as a retired player just yet. He still loves the sport. He still watches games and works out and thinks he can help a team in need of his savvy and skill set (he’s hit 38.8 percent from 3 in his career).
He thinks he can play for five more years but knows he probably won’t.
“I got to be prepared if a team doesn’t want to pick me up,” he said. “Then what am I going to do?”
When he does officially retire, Moore plans to finally make up some business cards. He has been holding out until he knows he’s done.
He already knows what the cards will say: that he’s a former NBA player, he dedicated most of his life to that pursuit and he won’t ignore it.
But they’ll also say he’s an entrepreneur. Actually, he wants to correct that. His business card will read, “successful entrepreneur.”
(Photo of E’Twaun Moore: Barry Gossage / NBAE via Getty Images)