Kobe Bryant cares an awful lot about winning, but based on a recent report that he's not going to accept a significant salary reduction when his contract expires after the 2013-14 season, it appears he cares about money a little more.
According to Serena Winters of Lakers Nation, Bryant said of a potential pay cut:
"I'm not taking any at all—that’s the negotiation that you have to have. For me to sit here and say, 'Oh yeah, I’m just going to take a huge pay cut.' Nah, I’m going to try to get as much as I possibly can."
This is a complicated issue, largely because if Bryant were employed in any other profession, nobody would have the impulse to knock him for trying to get as much money as possible. So before anyone leaps up to decry Bryant as selfish or greedy, first consider how ridiculous it is to criticize someone for trying to collect as much money as his employer is willing to give him.
But the NBA is a different world, one in which talk of "sacrifice" and "winning at all costs" isn't uncommon.
Bryant has gone to great lengths to create an image of himself as a consummate winner. But as hard as he has worked to cultivate that persona, his actions over the years have consistently revealed that winning—on its own—isn't enough for him.
He has to win in a way that feeds his ego and allows him to be the center of attention. So it shouldn't be surprising that he's not willing to put money—one of the biggest ways NBA players measure themselves against one another—aside for the betterment of his team.
That's just not part of his makeup.
If winning were truly all Bryant cared about, he absolutely would take a major salary cut in the summer of 2014, similar to what Tim Duncan has done with the Spurs. It's that simple.
Again, nobody's saying Bryant is wrong for wanting to maximize his financial gain. That's normal.
But let's call this what it is: Bryant has said he only cares about winning championships, but his actions have consistently cut against his words.
His refusal to take a pay cut is just the latest example.