The numbers have come out, and the Miami Thrice team-up of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are true to their word, money was not the main thing.
Okay, it was a pretty big thing. James and Bosh are each making $110.1 million over the course of six years, with Wade making $107. It’s not like they’ll be having to live paycheck to paycheck.
But they will be leaving $15 million on the table to play together. In the first year of their contract, Bosh and James will be making $14.5 million (Wade with $14 flat), nearly two million less than what they would have made base-year at the max (in a non-sign-and-trade). They’ll each receive 10.5% raises throughout the life of the contract. But what’s most notable, as ESPN reports in their release of the numbers, is the interesting way each contract ends.
Let’s say this thing is an unmitigated disaster. The first year they struggle, and chalk it up to role players or still learning to play with each other. The second year something weird happens and they just can’t get it together or there’s an injury. And the third year they fail, once more, and again in the fourth. A colossal failure with people pointing fingers and they’re the laughing stock of the league. The most incredible part of this deal?
They can all do this whole thing again in 2014 after the fourth year.
The contract allows for opt-outs for the fifth and sixth year of the deal.
The amount of power this contract yields for the three is simply staggering. They hold an inordinate amount of power, as expected, and have the option to stay for six years if they want. If one of them were to, God forbid, suffer a severe injury that changes their career forever. They can be making $20 million plus at age 34 (Wade) or 31 (James, Bosh). But if they’re dominating the league but want a change of scenery, if jealousy rears its ugly and predictable head, they can be out there on the front line of free agency again.
Leaving the money on the table? It is staggering. You have to understand, multiple sources I spoke to within agencies and the league told me there was no way they would leave the money on the table. None. That’s not how this works. But that’s what they did.
It’s a staggering combination of brash selfishness and admirable selflessness in a pursuit of greatness. It’s staggering ego meets the sacrifice we ask of athletes. We can’t be happy with their image, despite doing exactly what we want athletes to do, sacrifice to win, because of the way it happened. It’s a conundrum of public relations. And nobody wins, except Heat fans.
That said, the pieces are in place, the agreements have been ironed out. Everyone will be watching, to see if they succeed, and many will be watching, hoping they fail. As James wrote on Twitter:
“The Road to History starts now!”