Kobe Bryant believes that elite NBA players, including him, are underpaid.
The Los Angeles Lakers star told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard — who wrote the most recent cover story on Bryant — that he doesn’t think that the league’s maximum contracts are fair or that players should be pressured to take pay cuts to create more cap room for their team.
As ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin pointed out, Bryant is technically right, but it’s a battle he can’t win. Players like Bryant bring in millions of extra dollars for a team through attracting ticket sales and sponsors. But athletes are ridiculously overpaid compared to the general population.
Bryant’s logic that players shouldn’t feel pressure to take pay cuts is also flawed. He made $30 million from the bench last season while his team finished second to last in the Western Conference. With the two-year, $48.5 million contract extension he signed in November, the Lakers were unable to lure any big free agents this offseason. So while it might not be “fair” that, for example, San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan took a pay cut before the 2012-13 season, he certainly got a lot more out of it.
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