The revelation of the financial details leaking from the new TV deal for the NBA is driving a wedge between players and owners very quickly. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who has been criticized as overpaid, especially on his most recent contract, thinks it’s simply a matter of misguided public perception, and there’s nothing wrong with the money he’s making.
Bryant signed a two-year extension worth $48.5 million t the beginning of the 2013-2014 NBA season. He later returned from his injury only to be fit enough to play for six games before another injury shut him down for the rest of the season.
Listen: business is business. I think people get that confused very easily in understanding that players should take substantially less than their market value in order to win championships. It’s very easy to look at the elite players around the league and talk about the amount of money that they get paid and compare that with the average player. But we don’t look at what the owners get paid and how much revenue they generate off the backs of these players.
The league makes a certain amount of money. The NBA players deserve their cut, regardless of what people think the fair percentage is when it comes to the split between the owners and the players. Overall, in this generation of more likable NBA stars than the ones that were around during the 1998-1999 lockout, the owners are probably held as more greedy side in the negotiations, especially when it seems like their cries of losing too much money before the latest CBA had more to do with playing with numbers than actual facts.
We have a TV deal that comes out and you look at it almost being up a billion dollars more than the previous one, and this is coming off the back of a lockout in 2011 in which the salary cap; it’s not a hard cap, but it’s pretty close to being a hard cap. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in this next labor agreement, because my understanding is this TV deal kicks in in the last year of this current agreement. So I’m sure they’ll try to lock us out again in 2017 and harden the cap even more.
But something Bryant doesn’t understand is that there isn’t anger at him from taking money away from the franchise. No one cares that the Buss family is spending that amount of dollars on one player. But there is a problem when certain players declare they want nothing more in the world than winning a championship, and handicap their own team from getting a better supporting cast by going for the maximum salary, especially when they know that they’re not good enough to compensate for the talent the team isn’t able to land.
I think as players, you’ve kind of got to hold your ground a little bit and not be afraid of what the public perception is. Instead, you try to educate the public a little bit and understand it’s not about complaining about how much you’re making, because that’s ridiculous. We are overpaid, but so are the owners. And you have to fight for what your market value is.
Not everyone is like LeBron James and Chris Bosh who took less money in order to make the big three in Miami work. And James has now taken a maximum contract, which means that good will when it comes to money doesn’t last forever. Players want to make the kind of money their market value suggests they should be making. James is just a big enough commodity to attract other players under favorable conditions. No one wants to play that badly with Kobe Bryant anymore.
I’m the luckiest basketball player in the league, because I got very fortunate to be with an organization that takes care of its players, rewards its players and has a long history of doing that. I think it speaks volumes, not only to me and to this city but to other players around this league as well. You look around at some of the other owners that try to milk their players or get rid of them or discard them, this organization doesn’t do that.
According to both Bryant and the Lakers, this was a no-brainer. He was offered the money straight up. No haggling, no arguing, no negotiations. Bryant has done a lot for the Lakers, and the Lakers have made a lot of money, not to mention won championships, thanks to him. But when he looks at the roster assembled and wonders why it’s not good enough to even make the playoffs, his own salary is a big part of the reason.