At the clock stroke of midnight on June 30th, Stephen Curry became the highest paid player in NBA history. Put another way, he got A-Rod money! A super max deal worth $201 million over five years.
So, the next logical question is, “Does Curry deserve it?” Deserve being a relative term, of course, as to how much value is placed on professional sports. Ironically, one of the first individuals to chime in on Steph’s new deal was his arch rival, LeBron James, who sparked secondary comments from other professional athletes.
We all know Curry’s background and the knocks against him early in his NBA career — glass ankles, too skinny, a defensive liability. For all those reasons he settled into a 4-year, $44 million deal back in 2012. Insane as it may sound, the dude made less money than one-time Warriors bench reserve player Kent Bazemore did in 2017. Since then, Curry’s outperformed not only his contract, but the entire league, literally. Here we are two MVP awards later, two championship titles later, a gazillion 3-point records later, and numerous circus shots and broken ankles later to get to the number $201 million. However, in relative sports money terms, is it enough?
In 2010, current Golden State Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the franchise for a ‘mere’ $450 million (which is only a little more than double what Curry makes now). Two championships later, the same franchise is worth $2.6 billion, according to Forbes. That’s more than 5x the original value in a short seven years. No knock on Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala, and the newly added Kevin Durant, but Steph Curry is still the main draw here. The slick dribbling, mouth piece chomping, happy-go-lucky joking, family-first guy is what makes this beautiful brand of basketball go. Period. It can be argued that we’ve not seen a game changing player of this caliber since Michael Jordan, but that’s a whole other debate.
Grown men, women and kids around the world not only know who Steph Curry is, but faithfully sport his gear which often don the words ‘Golden State Warriors’ across the front. To put it lightly, he’s a walking billboard for a franchise that goes and he goes. Again, $201 million is a ton of friggin’ money, but maybe LeBron James has a point — is it enough?
MLB is one of the few professional sports that doesn’t impose a salary cap, but instead implements a competitive balance tax (“The luxury tax”). One has to wonder that if the cap were removed in the NBA, how much would Steph Curry really be maxed out at. For the sake of comparison, Blake Griffin, the one-dimensional, often injured, secondary-role-playing Blake Griffin notched a 5-year, $173 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers on the very same day as Curry. Now, if you tell me that Steph Curry is only worth $28 million more than the has-been dunker Blake Griffin, then something’s terribly wrong with the NBA economics. LeBron James may have his own payday approaching that he’s angling for, but the man makes an extremely valid point.
So again, is $201 million enough?
(This article was originally published on July 1, 2017)