When Kobe Bryant signed a two-year extension worth $48.5 million, fans tended to fall into two camps.
One group felt as though the Los Angeles Lakers were paying far too much money for an aging superstar, especially one who spent the 2013-14 season dealing with all sorts of injury concerns. Even for a healthy Mamba, over $24 million per year—which easily makes him the highest-paid player in the NBA—is a large chunk of cash.
It also ate into the team's ability to sign other high-quality players, as Kelly Dwyer explained in March for Yahoo! Sports:
He can talk up wanting to win first all he wants, but the Lakers would have a far easier time surrounding him with championship-level teammates had he decided to help the team clear its books further. Don’t blame him for taking what was offered, but you are allowed to criticize when he attempts to have his cake and eat it too; and also find me a center and small forward.
But then there's the group falling on the opposite side of the spectrum.
Those in that particular camp understand that this contract goes beyond basketball; it's rewarding Bryant for 18 years of faithful service to the Purple and Gold, recognizing that no matter what he does on the court, he's still worth an unquantifiable amount in advertising, television deals and marketability.
Jeanie Buss, making her voice heard at a UCLA Institute for Molecular Medicine seminar, left no doubt which side she chose, per Derrek Li of the Daily Bruin:
(Bryant) was a great investment for the organization. To me, he is worth every dime that we’re paying him, and we’re going to have the opportunity to show how much we appreciate everything he’s done.
Dimes are an interesting unit of measure. Granted, that's just a rhetorical turn of phrase, but by invoking a unit of currency worth only 10 cents, Buss is tacitly underscoring just how much Bryant is being paid by the Lakers over the last two seasons of his contract.
Four hundred and eighty-five million dimes, in fact.
That's a whole lot of change.
But the important thing to realize is that all that change prevents, well, change for the Lakers. The makeup of this team is going to shift drastically over the next two offseasons—particularly in 2015, when a talented crop of free agents hits the open market while the Lakers have financial flexibility.
But Bryant will still be the man leading the charge. That alone makes the deal worth it for Buss.
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