Kobe Bryant recently signed a three year extension that keeps him wearing a LA Lakers jersey at least until his 35th birthday. This is not only good for the NBA to keep Kobe in one of the league’s premier cities and franchises, but even better for the Lakers. The reason is simple: Kobe’s extension was a bargain. Yes, a total bargain. How can a $25 to $30 million new contract be a bargain? Simple reason: Championships.
Do you realize Michael Jordan made $30million and $33million in his last two seasons, respectively, with the Chicago Bulls. Like Kobe is attempting do, MJ snatched championships in each of those years, ending with a second three-peat.
Of course, once you read that, you’re thinking and even possibly screaming: MJ was better than Kobe!! Is this guy serious??
Listen: I don’t disagree, at least not yet (even with Kobe still having chapters to write in his NBA story.) MJ is better. Let’s just leave that fact alone. The Lakers getting a bargain isn’t about who is better between MJ and Kobe.
But get this: MJ’s $33million was in 1997-1998, his last season with the Bulls. Do I need to say the year again? 1998! Remember that. Have you heard about a little word called “inflation?” That $33million is approximately $47million in 2012 dollars.
(note: for you number types, take a look at the CPI index and we’re talking annual inflation over the span of time from 1998 to 2012, when this new contract kicks in, averaging conservatively, 2.54%, using an average of CPI from 1998 to 2009 and staying the same to 2012 to give us the inflation factor over the 14 year period. You do the math and that is the $47million.)
So, compare $47million to $25million (Kobe’s new salary the 1st year of the extension) and you see the big difference. Is Kobe worth that much less than MJ? No way, especially with how valuable he is to his team, the league, and the final scoreboard, championships.
This is why the LA Lakers got the deal of the last decade. The reason: Kobe signing the extension solidifies the team’s chances to win multiple rings. Will they? We’ll wait & see, but no matter what, the team will be in the discussions, at or near the top of the standings. That alone was worth the money. On top of that, when the Lakers go super deep into the playoffs, they rack up the extra funds the NBA dishes out to teams. Last year, they received in excess of $20million. Kobe bringing them to the finals is almost a wash, not to mention keeping the Lakers as the marquee team in the NBA, the finely tuned marketing machine. You can slice and dice this transaction any number of ways and it is all a great business decision by Dr. Buss. (Don’t forget, this is the same guy who dealt away Shaq because he chose not to pay for deteriorating talent. Dr. Buss and his organization know what they are doing.)
Lastly, for all the haters who say Kobe’s on the backside of his prime, go right ahead. I’ll actually join in. Let’s give a shout out right now on how he is declining. Now that we’ve done that, back to business.
Sure, Kobe’s got a ton of minutes on that body (to steal from Indiana Jones, we know it’s “not the years but the miles”) but Kobe, more than anyone, takes amazing care of his body. I don’t see him breaking down. And, I’ll point to MJ, again.
Michael Jordan’s game changed as he aged. If you don’t believe this, just think of his patented moves. Early in the career, it was fly over everyone. Into his prime and beyond, MJ developed a deadly post-up game (Phil Jackson by admission stated MJ was the primary post threat in the Bull’s triangle O), and who can forget all of those fadeaways MJ took. I try not to remember nor think about when he went to the Wizards in his 3rd tour of duty (I’ve struck that period from my brain), but even then, MJ averaged over 20 points per game, at 40 plus years old. He did that because his game changed. He put in the work.
Kobe is a FedEx/Kinkos copy of MJ. He put himself under the scanner and out came a comparable game to MJ. Where Kobe lands as the greatest of all-time is another discussion (note: read our one-on-one matchup from an earlier post in March 2010 to see who we think would win in a head to head game.) But Kobe’s super dedicated to his body and to improving his game. There is no denying that. He keeps his body in top shape and that is the first step to maintain playing at the high level I know he will over the extension period.
And, for the haters, I’m already noticing this season, especially with the foot injury mid-season, that Kobe doesn’t quite have the lift he has had in the past. But, like MJ, that hasn’t stopped him and most people, even the so-called “NBA experts and commentators,” have failed to notice this change in Kobe’s game. He is still “mamba” quick, but doesn’t finish above the rim like before. Doesn't matter. He’s developed a post game that will only improve. Watch and see.
The final score: There is no reason with the way the Lakers are currently assembled, barring that NBA curse word “injuries”, that LA doesn’t get or at least compete for a few more championships. The team is simply too well built and the Buss organization too masterful that they won’t course correct if a new need arises. This is the reason the resigning of Kobe is both brilliant and a bargain. That is the cheapest $25 to $30million dollars the Lakers and Dr. Buss will ever spend.
Let the Debate Begin!!
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