On Friday, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James said he has sacrificed in order to win throughout his career by never signing a “max” contract. He also noted that if the NBA did not have a salary cap, he would make a lot more than the $17.5 million he is being paid this season.
“I have not had a full max deal yet in my career – that’s a story untold,” James said. “What I do on the floor shows my value. At the end of the day, I don’t think my value on the floor can really be compensated for, anyways, because of the (collective bargaining agreement).”
In regards to his salary, James added, “if this was baseball, it’d be up, I mean way up there.”
Baseball, unlike the NBA, does not have a salary cap.
And James is correct in his assessment.
European teams, for instance, have reportedly offered James $50 million a year to play. According to ESPN, James is the 13th-highest player in the league even though he is arguably the league’s best player. Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, whose contract was signed before the most recent collective bargaining agreements, is the league’s highest paid player at $27.8 million.
“I don’t get (the credit) for it. That doesn’t matter to me; playing the game is what matters to me,” James said. “Financially, I’ll sacrifice for the team. It shows for some of the top guys, it isn’t all about money. That’s the genuine side of this, it’s about winning. I understand that.”
James and teammate Chris Bosh came to Miami in 2010 to join Dwayne Wade to better their chances of winning an NBA title, which they did in 2012. James infamously said then that he was taking his “talents to South Beach.” Bosh is “earning $17.5 million this season, while Wade is making $17.1 million.”
James said because of the new collective bargaining agreement, basketball players may have to take even more of a pay cut if they want to team up with fellow superstars to make a run at championships.
“I think teams understand that you need three guys to do big things; the ‘big three’ thing is pretty cool if you can get it,” James said. “To keep teams like this together, you may have to take even less because of the new CBA. I guess we’ll find out.”
For the 2012-13 season, the NBA’s salary cap is $58.044 million and the luxury tax level is at $70.307 million. Any team that goes over the luxury tax threshold must pay $1 tax for every $1 by which it is over” and the tax will become even “more punitive starting in the 2013-14 season.”