Skip to content

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

Jan 28, 2013, 5:05 PM EDT

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. Raptors’ Terrence Ross undergoes ankle surgery

    May 23, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    Ross, and the Raptors, had a disappointing season.

  2. Legendary Harlem Globetrotter dribbler, Hall of Famer Marques Haynes passes away at 89

    May 23, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    HAYNES AP

    He certainly is one of the greatest ball handlers of all time.

  3. Hawks Kyle Korver out for remainder of playoffs with high ankle sprain

    May 23, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Getty Images

    I’d say this puts the Hawks in a difficult spot, but they already were in one.

  4. Report: Scott Skiles in lead to become next Orlando coach

    May 23, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    150523_skiles Getty Images

    The popular former Magic player would sell well to the fan base.

  5. Hawks’ Kyle Korver leaves Game 2 with ankle sprain, does not return (VIDEO)

    May 23, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Getty Images

    Atlanta is already down 2-0 to Cleveland in the series, and if Korver misses any time, the Hawks are finished.

  6. Report: Jeff Van Gundy candidate for Pelicans’ coaching job

    May 23, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Game One Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Eastern Conference Finals Game One Getty Images

    He would bring a defensive mindset that he team could use.

  7. Cavs’ improved defense deserves credit for commanding 2-0 Eastern Conference Finals lead

    May 23, 2015, 12:25 AM EDT

    Timofey Mozgov Timofey Mozgov

    Cleveland shut down Atlanta’s offense in a dominant Game 2 performance.

  8. No Kyrie Irving, no problem: Cavaliers cruise to blowout Game 2 win over Hawks

    May 22, 2015, 11:16 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    LeBron was great, and that was enough against a Hawks team that keeps losing guys due to injury.

  9. James Harden was ‘kicking chairs’ after Rockets’ Game 2 loss to Warriors

    May 22, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two Getty Images

    There’s also video of Harden doing some damage in the tunnel on the way to the locker room.

  10. Pero Antic commits flagrant foul on LeBron James (VIDEO)

    May 22, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    Ruled a flagrant, which was probably the correct call under the circumstances.

  11. Lakers not planning on trading the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft

    May 22, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Mitch Kupchak AP

    GM Mitch Kupchak: “It looks as though we’ll use our pick this year.”

  12. Kyrie Irving out for Game 2 vs. Hawks

    May 22, 2015, 7:38 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Irving is dealing with a knee injury.

  13. Kobe Bryant tries to explain Stephen Curry with a riddle

    May 22, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Explaining Stephen Curry’s game is just not that easy.

  14. Clippers’ Dahntay Jones: There’s no rift between Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan

    May 22, 2015, 6:49 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Did they disagree? Sure. Was there a rift… depends on who you ask.

Featured video

Will Klay Thompson get a little help on James Harden?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Irving (6817)
  2. K. Love (5934)
  3. D. Howard (5145)
  4. P. Beverley (4981)
  5. S. Curry (4354)
  1. L. James (4103)
  2. D. Carroll (4025)
  3. K. Durant (3989)
  4. M. Speights (3976)
  5. K. Bryant (3909)