That amount probably felt like $159 million to a player that had mostly been barred from working during his two years at Wake Forest. As the nine-time NBA All Star put it, I was just grateful to be in school. (Now he realizes that he and every other college player was getting cheated out of the profits they were helping generate .)

Newly flush with cash at 20, Paul went shopping. First thing I did was go to the mall. Told my wife to pick something out. Told my homie to pick something out. Told his girl. Once upon a time, you just thought you had to have everything iced out. Especially watches. I had a Cartier watch. You almost couldnt tell time on it, it had so many diamonds on it.

Paul tells us these shopping sprees were the dumbest things hed done financially. One of the first things he bought, he says, was a pearl-colored Cadillac Escalade with spree wheels, wheels that keep spinning even when the car is stopped. Its dope to have a car like that. I was balling. I was stunting. Until my momma needed to go to the grocery store. And now my mama is riding around in this Escalade with spinning wheels and the next thing you know, my momma got pulled over. I think the police officer was just being nosy. (Still, Paul loves his cars, and he now has a Porsche, another Escalade, a Range Rover, a 77 Monte Carlo he can go on.)

One of the mistakes that all of us makeother NBA players and myselfis that a lot of times we just want everyone to do it for us, Paul says, explaining how many players will simply buy advice instead of learning financial moves for themselves. Paul says his best purchase after signing with the Hornets was a house. When I first got into the NBA, my parents didnt want to move, Paul says. They wanted to stay in the same house that I grew up in and lived my entire life in. So what me and my brother did was we bought a house right down the street from our parents house. Literally 4-5 minutes away. The only problem was that our dad would be over at our house 6:30-7:00 A.M. cutting our grass!

Paul says his financial decisions now have changed since his shopping spree (and car spree) days. This is the biggest thing that I learned financially: spend your money on experiences. Once upon a time, it was thingsjewelry, clothing, watches. But for me, now, its experiences. My kids probably wont remember what I got for them three Christmases ago, but if I take them on a trip to Spain, theyre gonna remember it.

At 34, Paul is nearing his professional twilight (he says hell keep playing until his wife or his body objects). Hes already begun planning future financial moves. I still want to be around the game. I love it too much [to leave], he says. Id love to own a team at some point, but also be involved in different areas, whether it be health and wellness or different media avenues. Also philanthropy. . . . Impact the next generation. Thats an experience worth investing some millions in.