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LeBron says stars that want to win need to sacrifice dollars

Feb 1, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT

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In the summer of 2014, LeBron James can and likely will opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat.

And that has led to a raft of preparations and speculation about what’s next — the Lakers have cleared out enough cap space to offer a max deal that summer (even if they sign Dwight Howard this summer), there is speculation he will want to return to Cleveland to pair with Kyrie Irving, and the list goes on and on.

My bet would be on him turning around and inking a new five-year deal with the Miami Heat — I don’t think he goes anywhere. But that’s not much fun to speculate about.

Wherever he lands, LeBron doesn’t expect to get paid his full value. And he said he’d make sacrifices for the team, he told ESPN’s Bryan Windhorst (go read all his comments).

“I have not had a full max deal yet in my career — that’s a story untold,” James said.

“I don’t get (the credit) for it. That doesn’t matter to me; playing the game is what matters to me. Financially, I’ll sacrifice for the team. It shows for some of the top guys, it isn’t all about money. That’s the genuine side of this, it’s about winning. I understand that.”

Already this year we have seen Oklahoma City and Memphis trade away top players — James Harden and Rudy Gay — because smaller market teams just can’t spend like that.

Even in bigger markets elite guys are going to have to take less than the NBA maximum salary — and that is already well less than they could earn on a true open market. Kobe Bryant will make nearly $30 million next year but what he means to the Lakers in terms of ticket sales, sponsorship deals, television deals and ratings dwarfs that (I’ve heard estimates of triple his salary).

LeBron likely would take less to stay in Miami (as he did with his last contract) and if he moves anywhere he can only be offered less than a max deal fro Miami. Not that any of this really fazes LeBron — he made around $40 million in endorsements last year, according to Forbes Magazine. Winning and stature frankly does more for his earning potential than what he can make off his regular contract.

Under the new and more punishing tax levels of the Collective Bargaining Agreement — the full force of which kick in next year — it’s going to be more expensive for teams that want to collect multiple superstars. The hope of small and medium market owners is this will flatten out the talent pool in the NBA as big-market owners can’t just decide they will pay the tax and hoard talent.

Except, I could swear I remember the owners of the Lakers and Nets doing exactly that this past summer. Even with the new tax looming.

Top players that want to win will find a way to team up — and that’s not bad for the league. The Celtics of the 1960s were a super team. The Lakers and Celtics of the 1980s were super teams. It continues on through Shaq and Kobe to Miami — NBA fans have shown with their eyeballs and dollars that they will watch these teams more than they have supported parity.

The simple fact is that wherever LeBron James plays other players will want to be. We can debate how much longer Dwyane Wade can play at an elite level and if LeBron wants to play with someone other than Chris Bosh, but the fact remains that Miami can lure plenty of talent while LeBron is there. And owner Micky Arison is smart enough to offer LeBron whatever he wants to stay.

It’s just that LeBron might not take it all.

  1. paintman34 - Feb 1, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Wade took less than both of them just so Haslem could stay

    • biggestredmiami - Feb 1, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      400k less, not that big of a deal for him.

    • 24thesho - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      So, let me getthis straight, Wade took less money so that Haslem could stay with the Miami Heat, but he could not offer to buy his sister and her son a nicer house loctated in a safer area in Chicago? Really?

    • 24thesho - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      So, let me get this straight, Wade took less money so that Haslem could stay with the Miami Heat, but he could not offer to buy his sister and her son a nicer house loctated in a safer area in Chicago? Really?

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 2, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      I just hope he can feed his kids.

  2. xxshookonexx - Feb 1, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    Wow, he’s such a role model

  3. sjc23yee - Feb 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Heat HATERS LOL

  4. rodge1 - Feb 1, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    LeBron is right… Try to ask Kobe to take a pay-cut he’ll have you fired.

    • musilly - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      I’m a Laker fan but this is one area where I think Lebron is in the right.
      Lebron knows that he’s the best player on the planet — he lets his game, not his salary, do the talking.
      Kobe, on the other hand…
      I think connects to Phil Jackson’s comment to the effect that during the regular season, Kobe’s definitely a gunner. He wants those individual accolades–scoring records mainly. In the playoffs, though, Kobe knows that winning means more facilitating, so he’ll be more of a team player.
      Lebron plays like a team player in both the regular and the post-season.
      He doesn’t need the regular season awards to “prove” anything.
      Couple years back, before Lebron got his ring, people talked about how he lacked the killer instinct of guys like Kobe. Really, I think it’s more on point to say that guys like Kobe–or just Kobe himself–should take a page out of Lebron’s more team-oriented playbook.

      • guyaneserj - Feb 2, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        Well said!

  5. david0303 - Feb 1, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    wowwwwwwww, funny how lebron forgot to leave out that by going to miami, he got HUGE tax breaks, and isn’t taxed on every game he plays. He could have signed a max deal anywhere else and he wouldn’t be making as much money as he does now. this guy is always looking for sympathy between this and we were way more scrutinized than the lakers. who the hell cares. he needs to shut up

    • kanemoney - Feb 2, 2013 at 12:36 AM

      There are other states that do not have state income tax:

      Alaska
      Florida
      Nevada
      South Dakota
      Texas
      Washington
      Wyoming

      This basically just adds Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to the list. Of those only Dallas could have been an option really.

  6. kingbeason52 - Feb 1, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    I like Lebron..but thats easy to say for someone who gets all the off the court endorsments that he gets..very few players have big paychecks like that coming in

  7. bleedburgandyandgold - Feb 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    The way I see it is there’s two kinds of players ones that want to get paid no matter the situation and ones that want to win no matter the situation but that’s just me and how I see it doesn’t mean I’m right and I’m still not sure what category to put LeBron in yet

  8. Jeff - Feb 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Ever time he opens his mouth I like him even less than I did before.

  9. the0verheadwire - Feb 1, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    I like LeBron, but let’s not pretend that these guys are making “sacrifices”. A sacrifice is taking two jobs to support kids or working in the coal mine because its the only job available even thought you know what it does to your health. Let’s stop pretending these guys are hurting because they make $17 million dollars a year.

  10. southpaw77 - Feb 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    What does he want credit for? He won the title, shut up and play ball.

    We don’t wanna hear a multi-millionare crying about how much money he gave up. Does this guy every stop whining, in other articles he crying about not seeing the Super Bowl, not having the energy for the dunk contest and now this.

    He went to a state with no state taxes, its about a break even situation for him. Making 18 mil to stay in Cleveland and then be taxed about 5 percent or make 15 mil in Miami and pay no state taxes. Then come the endorsement money. If he wants credit take the league minimum, eat Ramen noodles, pizza and bologna sandwiches every night like a college kid then talk about himself in 3rd person like he likes to do.

  11. newyorkfootballjets - Feb 1, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Kobe = laker killer

    • 00maltliquor - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:01 AM

      Kobe=5 rings, 7 finals appearances in 10 years.

  12. 6stn - Feb 1, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Financial sacrifice? Nothing new. A lot of us do that every year.

  13. mahhelo - Feb 1, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    “what does he want, a cookie?”

  14. 00maltliquor - Feb 2, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    I LOVE LeBron!

  15. rodge1 - Feb 2, 2013 at 3:26 AM

    Kobe = no 2013 playoffs

  16. davidly - Feb 2, 2013 at 6:06 AM

    Y’all see ‘Bron’s flop last night?
    Have any all-stars been warned yet?
    Naptown freezes the Heat, time and again…

  17. doublezero74 - Feb 2, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Kobe’s 30M salary is a killer to the team cap space and there is no way around it. Helin tries to sugarcoat it and say its worth it because of the endorsement and ticket sales blah blah blah. The problem is that while they have some high priced stars on that team, they have no quality depth behind aging/overpriced stars. So I would say his salary hampers them from winning on the court this year and beyond. But they’ll get some sweet advertising dollars though

  18. mrbiz8505 - Feb 2, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    If you don’t want credit…..then don’t talk about it

  19. iamjimmyjack - Feb 2, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Omg is this a joke? He’s “sacrificing”? Seriously? Sacrificing a few million dollars for the team. What a thoughtful guy. Lebron, just when I was starting to like u, u mess it up. Not that u should care what us fans think, and not that all of us would do what u did, but the reality is making over 200 million in ur career on contracts and endorsement deals is no sacrifice at all.

  20. daubs17 - Feb 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    People defending LeBron on here crack me up. This dude pulled in $13 million from his NBA salary and a cool $40 million in endorsement deals last year alone. Then has the audacity to complain to the press and public about him not getting the credit he deserves for taking less money. Again, people that defend LeBron crack me up.

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