Several weeks ago, I had an argument about NBA salaries with several friends, who happened to be huge fans of the NHL, MLB, and NFL, but they are very anti-NBA.
They aggressively attacked underperfoming NBA players and players who are paid millions to ride the bench. They included role players and even some "superstars".
Immediately, I refuted their biased attacks. I explained to them that NBA players, unlike football players, are more recognizable because their faces can be seen by fans.
I brought up the fact that individual players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard can offer numerous memorable highlights in a 48-minute game. In constrast, players like A-Rod or Jeter may make no spectacular plays during the course of a game due to baseball's slow pace.
When the ESPN highlights are on, basketball dominates the show. As a result, basketball players are more marketable than other athletes, which translates to more money.
Lastly, I pointed out that players fill up the seats, not the organization. As long as owners are profiting and making a bunch of money, then NBA players should be rewarded. If Wall Street CEOs can get $40 million bonuses for mediocre-to-above-par work, then NBA players should get rewarded for filling up seats, winning games, and drawing endorsements. Good work should be rewarded.
Yet, with the downturning economy, very few NBA owners have been profiting lately. In fact, many of the smaller-to-average market teams are losing money, even to the point that they had put in loan requests to David Stern. Considering the financial woes of the NBA, my friends were partially right about underperforming players being a financial detriment to their team.
With that in mind, which of the NBA’s version of overpaid executives (players) should be penalized or, at the very least, should volunteer to give back their salaries?
Note to readers: NBA players receive full health benefits, free visits to team physicians, doctors, and surgeons. Their uniforms are paid for, they fly for free on team planes, and they get free hotels with food prepared by team chefs. The organization basically covers for all their team-related expenses. For players who are not working overtime (playoffs), they can receive up to six months of vacation.