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LeBron says he wishes NBA didn’t have a salary cap in response to baseball star’s monster contract

Mar 29, 2014, 12:03 AM EDT

Lebron James AP

LeBron James may take a break from winning the MVP award this season, but few would bother trying to argue that he doesn’t remain the game’s best player.

That widely-recognized designation doesn’t mean he’s the highest paid, though, and in fact, he barely cracks the top 10 this season due to the way the collective bargaining agreement places limits on what players can earn in the NBA system.

Other sports don’t have the same rules, so when a baseball player recently inked a 10-year deal that approached $300 million in total value, James couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow, and briefly wish that he was in a similar situation.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

LeBron James says he was amazed and a little jealous when he heard Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera signed a contract Friday that guarantees him $292 million over the next 10 years.

“I said ‘wow,’ ” James said before the Miami Heat played the Detroit Pistons on Friday. “I wish we (the NBA) didn’t have a salary cap.” …

“He’s the best player in baseball, and the best players in each sport should be rewarded,” James said. “It’d be nice to sign a 10-year deal worth $300 million.”

James makes the same as Chris Bosh at just over $19 million, which ties him for ninth in the league this season.

Baseball is a wreck of a sport without a salary cap unless you’re one of the large market teams, and despite what casual observers believe about the NBA, the system has largely created a level playing field, which is evident when you see teams like San Antonio and Oklahoma City routinely compete deep into the postseason.

What would be interesting, however, would be to see player salaries become uncapped, while team salary limitations remained in place. If that happened, James could command a similar contract to the one which he envies, but the team that signed him would have to be extremely creative in building a contending team around him with limited salary left to fill out the roster.

  1. spg3081 - Mar 29, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Baseball is not a wreck of a sport. Developing players simply plays a much larger role. It’s very rare that purchasing a super team, a la the Heat, works out. The Rays routinely contend. The A’s regularly beat out bigger spenders in their division. St. Louis let’s high priced players walk & replace them internally, winning a couple of World Series recently in the process. The Nationals haven’t been big spenders, though their payroll is rising – they have a lot of homegrown talent. The Red Sox have as many players they developed – be it from the minors or off the scrap heap – as they do established stars that they paid in free agency (if not far more of the former). The Pirates have built an exciting team. However, the spotlight remains on the Dodgers & Yankees and their high spending ways. When the Yankees were a “dynasty,” home grown talent was the core of the team. Unlimited spending in the draft & international signings has been eliminated, unless teams want to face stuff penalties. Superstars rarely leave for greener pastures until the end of their prime years (the player referenced here, Miguel Cabrera, was traded by a frugal Florida franchise that makes OKC look as loose with the purse strings as the Nets). I’d say baseball is far from a wreck of a sport. That’s an assessment made from afar without much thought put in to it.

    I’m not denigrating the NBA, nor am I doing so when pointing out the Heat. The NBA swings on a couple players on each roster being superstars. It’s apples and oranges. Why call out baseball here?

  2. anotheryx - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    NBA has the worst parity in 4 major sports, and no one even comes remotely close. Most of it is due to the difference that 1 super star player can make (which would justify LBJ’s stance even more) and not due to salary structure, but that’s like kettle calling rainbow black.

    • anotheryx - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      From your own NBC: http://www.nbcsports.com/football/nfl/fair-or-foul-parity-and-american-sports

  3. ninthwardfriend - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    The NBA and NFL are predominately black. MLB is mostly pink I mean white. Think about it.

    • ironyisadeadscene - Mar 30, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      but…..hockey

    • shuttaman1990 - Mar 31, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Don’t want them young blacks getting all that money?
      Racism is still alive they just concealing it.
      and hockey? lmao no one gives a damn about hockey except for Canadians, trust me I’m Canadian.

  4. mrbiz8505 - Mar 29, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    LeBaby…whining again !

  5. usm418 - Mar 29, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Small market teams contend for championships much more than in the NBA. MLB teams spend crazy cash and it guarantees them nothing.

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Amazing how many of you think you’re qualified to decree how much LeBron should make. How about we talk about something we ARE qualified to talk about like how much is LeBron worth? Bill Simmons already tackled this issue and apparently LeBron is worth about $75 million to his franchise.

    http://grantland.com/features/the-best-bargains-nba/

  7. hudgeliberal - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Just another reason I will never be a fan of this man. He puts a public face for all to see but he is not the man he claims to be. Greed is exactly what is bringing this nation and the world to its knees. Sigh.

    • antaresrex - Mar 31, 2014 at 2:20 AM

      Would you turn down the offer of $300 million over 10 years, guaranteed, to do your job?

      If you were better at your profession than any other person in the world, wouldn’t you want to be paid your full market value?

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