By: Jacob Kornhauser – KCOU Sports
Capitalism is slowly fading in the NBA. Some of the league’s best players aren’t earning as much as middle-of-the-road players and it’s all because of the “Big Three” mentality. In order for the league’s top players to team up, each has to take a pay cut as everyone saw LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh do in Miami.
Some may view this as a positive; some of the league’s top players are putting their money where their mouth is (or sacrificing some of it) when they say winning is more important than money. Playing for the love of the game over the love of a gigantic paycheck is admirable, but it exposes a flaw in the set up of the NBA.
Stars like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love saw how well this system worked in Miami and now they want to move into winning situations of their own. Increasingly, we’re seeing players decide that gold trophies and diamond rings are worth far more than plain old dollar bills. This makes a handful of teams in the NBA very exciting to watch while others are almost unwatchable.
Monetarily, it’s become rewarding to be selfish and take a maximum contract while being the only star on your team. Here are just a couple examples of how the star power of the NBA has made some of their best players not make as much as less talented players.
Player A averaged 13.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and 0.3 blocks per game. Player B averaged 27.1 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and 6.4 assists per game.
Player A is Carlos Boozer and he made $15.3 million in base salary last season.
Player B is LeBron James and he made $19,067,500 in base salary last season.
There is no way that James is worth less than $4 million more than Boozer. Even though he can score in bunches, Boozer is a second player at best while James is the best player on the planet.
Player A scored 32.0 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 5.5 assists per game. Player B scored 20.0 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game and 2.9 assists per game.
Player A is Kevin Durant and he made $17,832,627 in base salary last season.
Player B is Rudy Gay and he made $17,888,932 in base salary last season.
The best scorer in the NBA is out-earned by Gay who is a solid player, but is a volume scorer. Durant won the 2013-14 NBA MVP and is right with LeBron as one of the best players in the entire world and he makes less than Gay, who has never played a leading role for a contender in his career.
There isn’t a real way to fix the issue because you can’t force players to take more money. As long as this is the prevailing mentality in the NBA, there will really only be five truly competitive teams every season with the other 25 paying lesser players to do the same job as some of the league’s stars.
Despite the competitive disparity this mentality has caused, it’s hard not to admit that players worrying more about putting rings on their fingers than dollars in their pockets is really refreshing.