Nov 15, 2010, 11:00 AM EST
Kobe Bryant, when he is serious, is direct. You will not confuse what he says with what he means — it is straight and plain.
Kobe was serious when talking with CBS’s Ken Berger about the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
“I think the owners need to look in the mirror,” Bryant told CBSSports.com when asked about the $750 million to $800 million reduction in player salaries being sought by the owners. “They need to make the right judgment themselves and stop trying to force us players to be the ones to make adjustments. They’ve got to look in the mirror and decide what they want to do with the sport, and we as employees will show up and do what we’ve got to do….”
“The onus is not on us,” Bryant said. “People are trying to put that responsibility on us. It’s not our responsibility. It’s the owners’ job. This is what they do.”
It’s a simple stating of the player’s position — the owners can’t go on a massive summer spending spree then claim poverty. Revenue is going to be up this season in the NBA, if the owners are claiming massive losses then they are doing a poor job of managing their businesses.
Will the players have to give back? You bet, and they know that to a degree. Salaries may slide back a little, there will be ways for owners to get out of longer guaranteed deals that go bad.
But the real problem is not what Kobe makes, not what LeBron or Wade or Durant or Garnett makes. Those guys are the ones people pay to see play, who get people to turn on their televisions and buy jerseys. Right now, it is the middle class of NBA players that make a disproportionate amount to what they provide on the court or at the gate. Right now the big stars subsidize those guys by having limits on max deals. Kobe makes money for the Lakers, even at the $30 million a year he will make is a few years. He’s well worth the money on a purely business level. But the league’s bloated middle is an issue.
And that is on the owners. Those “bad” deals are ones they and their basketball people approved. They can’t blame the players, the owners do need to look in the mirror. They can’t ask the players to give back without much better revenue sharing and more stiff tax/fees for those who go over the cap. Level the playing field some, and maybe then those bad middle class contracts will dry up, and the owners bottom line will look better.
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