Seems kind of crazy to think that I a guy slated to make over 17 million dollars to bounce a ball on a court could ever be underpaid. Lebron’s recent comments about getting no credit for not taking the max but not caring seem like he is fishing for some sympathy or recognition from people. For being , at least in my opinion, the best player in the NBA today, and the best since prime Shaq, Lebron isn’t even in the top 5 NBA salaries. He makes less than Kobe( 10 million less), Dirk, Amare , and Carmelo Anthony.
I do like the idea of the maximum salary in the NBA, and am very much in favor of a salary cap. However, the maximum contract restrictions in the NBA severely limit the earning potential of the leagues best players. For instance, in baseball the leagues most coveted free agents routinely bring in salaries more than that of James, and for a lot longer too. Alex Rodrigues currently has a 10 year deal with 275 million dollars. Not to mention that a single star in baseball doesn’t have nearly the affect on the outcome of the game as does a star in basketball. Lebron can literally have the ball in his hands every play if he wanted to, A-Rod can only come up to bat 1 out of every 9 times. Could you imagine what an NBA owner would have to fork over in order to get the best player in the league in the prime of his career? According to Forbes, the Cavaliers went from being worth 476 million with James to worth 355 million without, about 20 million LESS than what Dan Gilbert paid for the team in 2005. That is with all of the times they made the playoffs, their finals appearance, and the multiple 60 win season. No wonder Gilbert was suicidal when James left. So losing Lebron meant the Cavs were worth 100 million less than they were with him. So its hard not to think that Lebron would easily command a salary of over 40 million on an unrestricted market.
Imagine what a player like Lebron would be worth to a team like New York or LA? How much those franchises would be worth. The NBA is becoming more popular now than it ever has. If the owners didn’t tighten the rope now with strict luxury tax penalties, max salary reductions, stricter salary cap exceptions, and shorter contract length, they could easily see players commanding salaries double the size of their current ones.
So yes, Lebron James is underpaid.