Wanna be like Mike
Many players in the league today grew up idolizing Michael Jordan. Some of the younger players might not have seen much of him play live but any basketball junkie shows their kids Jordan highlights. Most think to be like Mike and win championships that it is all about your skill level and work ethic. While that makes up a large portion of it their still is another factor that no one ever really brings up. Michael Jordan throughout his career constantly took less money than he was worth. This information has gotten lost over time and most people point to the two seasons where he made 30 million as proof he didn’t take less, but in all actuality Jordan for the majority of his career was never the highest paid player. Let this sink in Jordan arguably the greatest player ever had seasons where he made less money than wait for it Danny Ferry, and Sean Elliot. You must be thinking how in the world can the best player in the world at his time take less money then Danny Ferry. Not to pick on Danny Ferry but there where other players like Patrick Ewing who made much more money than Jordan. While Patrick Ewing can make a case he deserved his money he was not quite on the same level as Jordan. Whether Jordan did this intentionally or the Bulls somehow got over on Jordan. It is clear this is what allowed the Bulls to surround Jordan with the pieces every year to win championships. You ever wonder how the Bulls where able to always sign really good talent to their team it is because of Jordan not making anywhere near what he should of made. Taking less allowed for the first Bulls championship teams to pick up quality players such as Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman. It also helped that in the 90’s that elite players normally stuck with the teams they where drafted or traded to. So when the Bulls picked up the quality talent it did they where able to dominate the league in a way no other team at the time could. In the last three peat the Bulls where rolling out a lineup with three hall of fame players while most other teams where rolling out one possibly two.
Who will follow the blueprint?
In the last 20 years their have been a few instances of players taking less which allowed their teams to have championship success. The player who embodied this sentiment the most was Tim Duncan. He was arguably one of the best if not the best players in the 2000’s. Every year he took considerably less money than top starts and it allowed the Spurs to keep a good rotation of role players who wouldn’t come in the game and lose leads. Another recent example on a smaller scale was Lebron and Durant taking a little less than the max to win championships with the Heat and Warriors. In Durant and Lebron’s case the amount they sacrificed wasn’t as much as Duncan and in Lebron’s case him not willing to sacrifice more on the court money could be partially to blame for his 3-6 finals record. While I am not rooting for players to take less money I do believe that there is a possibility for players to take less money from their NBA salary and win more championships which will lead to them making more money outside of basketball and much further along after their career. It is proven that cornerstone players like Jordan will always be promoted by the league and with the shoe and apparel deals it is possible to make three times more than their NBA salaries by winning. What makes Jordan so profitable is that during his era he was the unquestioned best player in basketball. His team dominance more so than his individual dominance has created a resume that is almost impossible to argue against as him being the greatest to ever play the game. Due to his accomplishments his figure is almost that of fairy tales and that is why he is now the richest NBA player of all time. The question now is who will be the next player to realize these advantages and sacrifice a few million dollars to run off a long string of championships? If I am Luka, Zion, R.J., or Lamelo I wouldn’t just be examining Jordan for his on court skills I would be examining Jordan for his business acumen. The right investments off the court and winning on the court can build generational wealth for these athletes like they have never seen.