Skip to content

Don’t take my word for it: NPR money people say LeBron underpaid

Jan 28, 2013, 5:05 PM EST

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

Like a lot of news programs, National Public Radio has taken to trying to explain the complexities of the economy to people like me with a new segment — Planet Money — that breaks it all down into layman’s terms.

Their piece on Friday — how LeBron James is underpaid at $17.5 million, but that is good for the league overall.

“He’s getting hosed,” says Kevin Grier, an economist from the University of Oklahoma…

Now all (the rules of the salary cap and maximum salaries) are all laid out in the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the players. Why would the players want this system? Because most players are not LeBron James.

“The union votes on the contract by majority rule,” Grier says. “The guy in the middle is the crucial voter.”

The salary cap means that some of the money that would otherwise go to James goes to the guy in the middle.

He then goes on to talk about how the salary cap and luxury tax make it possible for Oklahoma City or even a medium market like Miami to have a title contender. Otherwise, the Lakers and Knicks could just go Yankees on the league and guy everyone good up. Even with the cap there are times it feels like they do (because they are willing to pay a tax others are not).

It should be noted LeBron with endorsements, LeBron is making $57.6 million this year, according to Forbes.

This is a lot of stuff we talked about during the lockout — if you really wanted to kill off “super teams” you would remove the max salary but leave the cap and tax in pace. Someone like LeBron would draw $40 million a year — not just because what he does on the court but because what he means for ticket sales, sponsorships in the arena, regional television revenue and more. At that price you couldn’t pair superstars.

Of course, is that what fans really want? Some say yes but ratings say no — we watch the super teams.

But I don’t think you’ll see a dramatic change in the salary structure in the NBA in the near future. As the economy picks up and revenue starts increasing (as it is this year) I think there will be a balance and a desire on both the part of the owners and the players to not go through another lockout. At least I hope they look at hockey and think so.

Latest Posts
  1. Rajon Rondo’s career highlights with the Celtics (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 10:30 PM EST

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    A final look back at Rondo’s time in Boston as he gets set to make his debut with Dallas.

  2. Report: Cavaliers GM passed on trading for Corey Brewer, hopes to add defensive big man instead

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    David Griffin AP

    Cavaliers are tied with the Pistons for 23rd in defensive efficiency.

  3. Report: Kings discussing trade for Deron Williams with Nets

    Dec 20, 2014, 7:11 PM EST

    New Jersey Nets practice 05/07/2014 AP

    Kings are looking to make a splash, and Williams has been made available in trade by the Nets.

  4. Report: Multiple teams contacting Suns trying to trade for Goran Dragic

    Dec 20, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns Media Day Phoenix Suns Media Day

    Dragic will opt out of the final year of his deal to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

  5. Jeremy Lin after Kobe misses at the buzzer: ‘I like game-winners too’

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Lin understands why Bryant always gets the ball in these situations, but admits he’d like to get some opportunities.

  6. Serge Ibaka blocks Carlos Boozer at the rim, does Mutombo finger wag (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Serge Ibaka, Carlos Boozer AP

    As the Thunder ended up winning by one, 104-103, this block ended up being very important.

  7. Damian Lillard drops career high 43, leads Blazers to 3OT win over Spurs (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 2:07 AM EST

    Damian Lillard AP

    Lillard needs to get mentioned with the game’s top point guards.

  8. Former No. 2 overall pick Darko Milicic loses first kickboxing fight (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 12:02 AM EST

    Former NBA player now trying to make his way as a fighter.

  9. Danny Ainge says uncertainty about Celtics’ ability to re-sign Rajon Rondo prompted trade to Dallas

    Dec 19, 2014, 10:50 PM EST

    Danny Ainge AP

    There are a whole host of reasons Rondo was traded; this is just the most convenient for Boston’s brass.

  10. Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard has torn ligament in right hand, return unclear

    Dec 19, 2014, 7:25 PM EST

    Kawhi Leonard AP

    Leonard was the Finals MVP for San Antonio last season.

Featured video

Jabari Parker injury latest for disappointing rookie class
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Bosh (6879)
  2. K. Martin (6878)
  3. R. Rondo (6403)
  4. T. Parker (6287)
  5. K. Durant (6158)
  1. T. Jones (6090)
  2. A. Bogut (6062)
  3. M. Smart (6027)
  4. D. Favors (5903)
  5. D. Lee (5736)