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Kobe says Team USA should be paid, but they would play anyway

Jul 30, 2012, 10:31 AM EDT

Olympics Day 2 - Basketball Getty Images

Dwyane Wade created a firestorm a few months back when he dared agree with Ray Allen that the USA Basketball players should be paid for their time at the Olympics representing the USA.

Wade backtracked soon after, because you can’t win that PR battle. Not when you march into Opening Ceremonies next to a wrestler or table tennis player who has given up so much financially and otherwise just to be there.

But that doesn’t mean the sentiment isn’t still there among the players. Look at what Kobe Bryant said on the USA’s first day in London, via the Los Angeles Times (hat tip to SLAM):

“There’s some truth to that,” Bryant said (of the team getting paid). “But we’re all here because we enjoy playing. Even though a lot of us probably share the same opinion, it’s not like we’re saying, ‘Well, we’re not going to play if you don’t pay us.’ We play. We do it because we want to.”

Players are paid a stipend/per diem, but like the NBA travel money it’s not that much to these guys.

Kobe couched his comment in the “we would do it anyway” mentality. But the fact is — and this is part of what eats at Mark Cuban and the owners — that Team USA helps the Olympics and USA Basketball generate a whole lot of money. They are sold, from jerseys to television rights. And unlike their NBA salaries, they do not see a dime of it. So you can make a capitalistic argument if you want.

But you cannot win the PR battle. That’s a dead end street. Not when a lot of athletes there make financial sacrifices to play. Not when you are playing for your country (and don’t need the money anyway).

Besides, these games help promote the international brands of Kobe, LeBron James and others. If they are going to be paid, have Nike do it, because they are the ones that sell more shoes in China and around the globe because of having NBA players on this stage.

107 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Tom Inch - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Greedy. That’s all you can say. A bunch of greedy millionaires. This is the main reason I watch very little professional sports. I would much rather watch my local High School’s teams who play because of the love of the game.

  2. yougotg - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    so the IOC fatcats can make billions of euros living in Switzerland but Team USA needs to shut up and play.. Why don’t you think FIFA sends its best players to the olympics? Because they know it’s a money grab by IOC suits. Don’t talk to me about playing for your country and honor and then ask corporate sponsors to PAY billions, and then ask hosting cities to pay Billions.. where does the money go???

    • maddog111 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Then just don’t play.

    • chitownmatt - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      I really don’t know the IOC committee member’s yearly salaries, but I highly doubt it is in the BILLIONS as you claim…

      In fact, I doubt even the president makes more than 500k a year.

      How much does Kobe make?

  3. imforbigblue - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Leave it to a black person to pull the race card saying ppl are mad because they want paid to play but if it was white ppl nobody would say anything. I love how it’s ok for blacks to pull the race card for everything and be ok. Well I’m white and damn proud of it and if the whole basketball team were white wanting paid to play for our country id be just as pissed off I don’t have to use skin color as a excuse like most black ppl.

    • jdillydawg - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Where was the race card pulled? I failed to find that in any of the related articles. I think you’ve not-so-subtly played your own race card.

  4. xxshookonexx - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    If the nba ballers don’t like the pay or the responsibility, stay the f*$& home. I’m sure another player would.

  5. trimaster1 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I’m conflicted on this. Do people have to pay to attend the events? Do advertisers pay to showcase their products? Are people behind the scenes paid a salary to run the day to day operations of the Olympics?

    • jdillydawg - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM

      Of course they do. I don’t understand the conflict here. People pay a lot of money to ride on the backs of athletes. The athletes get a shot at glory. But glory doesn’t pay the bills, so in my mind they should be compensated.

      However, if you’re a professional athlete, you:
      A) Shouldn’t even be in the Olympics and
      B) Should consider donating what you would make in the Olympics to the true amateurs.

      I do find it ironic that the people making a fuss about compensation are among the most highly compensated athletes in the world…

      • chitownmatt - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

        Micheal Phelps never got a dollar to swim for the USA Olympic team, but he has made an estimated 40 million since Beijing…


      • trimaster1 - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:30 PM


        If professional athletes shouldn’t be in the olympics that would affect quite a few sports:

        track & field
        football (soccer)

        Some of the very people fans are excited to see are pro athletes. It seems as though the NBA players catch all the flack for this, but pro athletes all over the WORLD are participating in the Olympics.

      • brianjoates - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:18 PM

        In 2012, not sure about past years, the USOC is paying:

        25K for a gold medal, 15k for a silver medal, 10k for a bronze.

        USA Wrestling is offering 250k for any us wrestler who wins gold.

        USA Cycling is offering 100k for a gold medal.

        USA Swimming is offering 75k for a gold plus a 50k bonus for a World record, 30k for a silver and 15k for a bronze.

        Private companies also offer athletes cash incentives for medals, sometimes tied to endorsement deals.

        So, I am sure the London basketball team will get sometype of cash reward for winning a gold medal ontop of what the USOC is paying.

  6. bozorocks - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Kobe, you and every other basket ball player are already over paid as it is. And you want more ?

  7. richc111 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Just like the USA hockey team too. All those professionals all the want is money. I remember when the USA made that great run for the gold but fell short and all we heard out of Ryan Miller’s mouth was how everyone should get paid. Oh wait that didn’t happen. Sorry got confused

  8. hatesycophants - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    I am always amused when someone like ccshocktalk attempts to correct and ridicule another’s use of the English language. Then proceeds to butcher the language himself.

    Have you ever listened to a NASCAR driver speak? Much of it is unrecognizable as English. Also, attacking a race-baiter with bigotry serves only to expose you.

  9. deiong - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    how freggin greedy can these people be? they should be ashamed, the nex gen ones will be even worse. if there so darn greedy why dont they have a booth and charge for there autograph if they are hurting that bad for money or hungry for more money to waste? how about charging people for pictures with the athele? i am not condoning this activity, but man, how greedy can one be that the million they make from the nba, and even more millions from endorsements they make not satisfy them. ive seen publicity events with there selves in here olympic garb, im sure they dont do taht for free. how much money is enough? if your responsable that money could last your immediate family a few generations easy and still have a ton of toys.

    i hope there greed is quenched at some point before they retire, cause itll be chapter 11, ~ 11 years after.

  10. isujames - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    Alot of these piece of s cowards only seem to post comments when its on a topic where they can display their hate/disdain of another race, cowards like that live in little small rural areas surrounded by miserable sun burned cowards with the same hate that runs through their blood as them.They wonder why they get skin cancer,Lol.You have to much hate running through your blood.

  11. isujames - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    I actually believe the folks @ NBC Talk blatantly keys in on subjects like this and make it a topic of discussion for the sole purpose of research and data.

  12. isujames - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    I mean seriously, what do you expect the rich to say/think??? They only care about adding to their wealth, there is never enough $$$$$$ for them.What do I know im just a middle class hard working man that is looking for his next tax break.

  13. omniusprime - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    All of these athletes are trash for wanting to be paid big bucks to engage in the Olympics, so unlike the true Olympic spirit of competition for the sake of competition. As a Laker fan I always adore Kobe but this time I’m trashing him just as bad as I did that Dipstick Wade for saying the same thing. These pro athletes get paid way too much for what little they do for a living. They can give us fans a freebie once in a while. If pro athletes start getting paid big bucks I’ll tune them out, as it is I watch less pro sports than ever and can always find something interesting to do than watch greedv little jerks play children’s games.

  14. pistolpete0903 - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Olympics has long been a corporate enterprise, what with the likes of McD, Coke, NBC et al. pumping in huge money.
    People ranting about how the NBA stars get paid and should represent the country for free are living in an era of the past. When people around you are making money off you, it is but natural to demand a share of it.
    The IOC has simply lost the Olympics, case in point (you pay money for an official appeal, WTF???)–oly.html

  15. mrlitl - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:24 PM


    “like most black people” is a broad, sweeping generalization. Make your point but don’t stereotype. As a Black man, I am put off by such asinine remarks. You have a right to an opinion. But try not to offend. Thanks.

  16. valman61 - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    You people are seriously ignorant. First of all race is not even remotely an issue. Athletes in this country are overwhelmingly minorities. They are paid in the top 1% of the country, based on skills not skin color.

    Every athlete should be paid for the Olympics. NBC paid a billion dollars to broadcast the games, in America. Other networks worldwide also pay (not as much but still allot) to broadcast. Plus sponsors pay millions if not billions for marketing. This money goes to the IOC and no one knows where all this money goes. It’s certainly not all spent on providing the dorm room amenities known as Olympic village. This money is paid due to the athletes.

    Not just team USA basketball, everyone. They all deserve to be paid. The fact that their not is an outrage. At least in college the “amateur” designation at least equates to a scholarship and education. But the Olympics have professionals. Why should they not get paid? They work four years and collectively produce a product that generates billions. In any other scenario, working for four years, generating huge revenue, and getting paid nothing to do so would be classified as slavery.

  17. Miami305 - Jul 30, 2012 at 11:26 PM


  18. omniusprime - Jul 31, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    I’ve got a name for this year’s USA Olympic basketball team – The Greedy Bunch!

  19. chicagosworth - Aug 1, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Like they don’t already get paid enough in the NBA!!! I thought the Gold was payment itself. Punks!!!

  20. billh1947 - Aug 3, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    To any professional athlete money is their god,they cant get enough of it,most piss it away on things they didnt need in the first place,fancy cars,multi million dollar homes,five thousand dollar suits,diamonds and gold from ears to toes,about the only thing they dont have is a chauffer because so many get nailed for drunk driving.paid for the Olympics?they are,but its not money,its pride and respect and having the honor of representing your country.there are other things more important than money.

  21. olympicfan1402 - Aug 4, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    I actually registered and am leaving my first blog post ever over this article. How much more offensive can the so-called “Dream Team” get? The US Olympic basketball team used to feature standout college players who really didn’t have a chance at a professional career. They may not have been able to make millions playing their sport, but they had the chance to represent their country. When they IOC and US Olympic Committee changed their rules for the first “Dream Team”, I was disappointed and to this day will watch any other Olympic match but men’s basketball because it feels so much like a manipulation of the Olympics. And now they want to be paid? Give me a break.

    They ought to take a look at 17-year-old Missy Franklin. She turned down endorsements to stay an amateur athlete so she could swim with her high school varsity team. Now there’s an athlete the US can be proud of.

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