Kobe Bryant is right.
But it’s also an argument that’s hard to win.
I’ve heard estimates from people around the Lakers that Kobe likely generates $70 million for the team when you consider the seats and suites he fills, with the sponsors that come to the Lakers because they want to be associated with him and the team he plays for. Yet he takes a lot of grief for the two-year $48.5 million contract extension he signed.
Kobe doesn’t think that salary cap system limiting max contracts is fair. He told that to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard (who did the big cover story profile of Kobe for SI).
He also doesn’t think it’s fair players are pressured to take less so the team can win.
• Kobe’s right, but you can’t win the argument, at least not with most fans. The problem is we can’t relate to the money involved — Kobe has made nearly $280 million over his career in salary alone, and that’s before this deal (and not counting endorsements, shoe deals, etc). You can be intellectually right that he doesn’t make even half of what he brings in to the organization, but you run into the “how much does a policeman make?” argument. Kobe plays a game — very well over his career, but it’s a game. Entertainers are overpaid in general in our society, maybe not in comparison to what they bring in, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for NBA players complaining about the size of their paychecks.
• Kobe’s contract still hamstrings the Lakers the next couple years. Lakers defenders don’t want to admit it, but it does. The Lakers struggle to attract top free agents like Carmelo Anthony because even if they sign him to a max deal they would have little other ability to upgrade the roster. Is it fair to Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan they had to take late career paycuts to help their team attract talent? No. But they did and those teams are much the better for it.
NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.
The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.
Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.
Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.
Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.
Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.
Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.
The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.
Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.
But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.
Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.
The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.
He might get back far sooner than that.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.