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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh each leave $15 million on the table, but can opt-out after fourth year

Jul 10, 2010, 9:38 AM EDT

The numbers have come out, and the Miami Thrice team-up of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are true to their word, money was not the main thing.

Okay, it was a pretty big thing. James and Bosh are each making $110.1 million over the course of six years, with Wade making $107. It’s not like they’ll be having to live paycheck to paycheck.

But they will be leaving $15 million on the table to play together. In the first year of their contract, Bosh and James will be making $14.5 million (Wade with $14 flat), nearly two million less than what they would have made base-year at the max (in a non-sign-and-trade). They’ll each receive 10.5% raises throughout the life of the contract. But what’s most notable, as ESPN reports in their release of the numbers, is the interesting way each contract ends.

Let’s say this thing is an unmitigated disaster. The first year they struggle, and chalk it up to role players or still learning to play with each other. The second year something weird happens and they just can’t get it together or there’s an injury. And the third year they fail, once more, and again in the fourth. A colossal failure with people pointing fingers and they’re the laughing stock of the league. The most incredible part of this deal?

They can all do this whole thing again in 2014 after the fourth year.

The contract allows for opt-outs for the fifth and sixth year of the deal.

Wowzers.

The amount of power this contract yields for the three is simply staggering. They hold an inordinate amount of power, as expected, and have the option to stay for six years if they want. If one of them were to, God forbid, suffer a severe injury that changes their career forever. They can be making $20 million plus at age 34 (Wade) or 31 (James, Bosh). But if they’re dominating the league but want a change of scenery, if jealousy rears its ugly and predictable head, they can be out there on the front line of free agency again.

Leaving the money on the table? It is staggering. You have to understand, multiple sources I spoke to within agencies and the league told me there was no way they would leave the money on the table. None. That’s not how this works. But that’s what they did.

It’s a staggering combination of brash selfishness and admirable selflessness in a pursuit of greatness. It’s staggering ego meets the sacrifice we ask of athletes. We can’t be happy with their image, despite doing exactly what we want athletes to do, sacrifice to win, because of the way it happened. It’s a conundrum of public relations. And nobody wins, except Heat fans.

That said, the pieces are in place, the agreements have been ironed out. Everyone will be watching, to see if they succeed, and many will be watching, hoping they fail. As James wrote on Twitter:

“The Road to History starts now!”

  1. Cordae - Jul 10, 2010 at 9:44 PM

    okay where exactly did the Jordan comparisons come from??? that was so random and useless to this argument. Nobody will do it “Jordans way” dude get a grip…

  2. Joe in Philly - Jul 10, 2010 at 11:08 PM

    Without a state income tax in Florida, these guys are all taking home more dough than they would have taken home elsewhere. I doubt money was their motivation, but they did not really leave any money on the table-not a dime. I have mixed emotions about Lebron. he certainly earned the right to go wherever he wanted. He didn’t owe Cleveland his entire career, but he did owe them the courtesy of informing the Cavs prior to making his announcement. it was classless and narcissistic to make the announcement on an hour long special, but hey, he’s 25 years old. When he is older, I think he wil lregret treating Cleveland that way. I also think Lebron deserves some credit and criticism at e same time for his willingness to share the spotlight/glory with Wade and Bosh. On one hand, it is remarkable that he wants to win more than he wants the credit. On the other hand, I want to see the best beat the best not join the best. While the trio is right that Jordan, Magic, Bird, and Russell all had talented teammates around them, and therefore, none of them won titles “alone.” I don’t think they appreciate their predecessors’ competitive spirit or the fact that there has never been a team with 3 of the top 10 players on it before. They are trying to take the easy way to championships, and diminishing the accomplishments in the process. In my mind, Malone, Stockton, Ewing, and Barkley’s pursuits of the rings were more meaningful than any championships this trio may earn. I for one am disappointed.

  3. Orcasmac - Jul 11, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    Oh, my heart bleeds for these guys leaving $$$ on the table! Considering that these guys are already in the stratosphere, I could care less what they “gave up” to play in Miami…
    Blech

  4. Omar - Jul 11, 2010 at 1:45 AM

    Icons are remebered for the positive impact they accomplished in the sport-on and off the playing scene! Ali, Dorsett, Kareem, Jordan, De La Hoya etc…Cleveland Cavs franchise HAD their opportunity and blew it! Time and time again! Give the “drama” a rest! The attitude some display now as an owner and bittered fans goes to show why they are not deserving! Enter Miami-with Riley and “THE THREE MIAMIGOS”! They are going to bring a fresh boost to the entire NBA next season as they “shoot-em” down in the South! Peace!

  5. Crimping Tools - Jul 13, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    Now Miami has big three man
    I am sure that They will creat great season and beat LA
    Come on
    YueQing Bontley Electric Co.,Ltd

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