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Who Is Paying For These Ludicrous Contracts?

By Johnny Shaolin

I’m reading about this everyday: Houston’s Tracy McGrady signing a 3 year, $63-million contract extension ON TOP of his 6 year, $110-million contract; Portland’s Zach Randolph, Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko, and Memphis’ Pau Gasol each signing 6 year, $86-million contract extensions.  Then recently, there’s San Antonio’s Tony Parker agreeing to a 6 year, $66-million dollar contract.  Geezuz, where do the owner’s get all this money? 

Oh yeah right….  I remember now. 

I’m reminded every passing season when I see that ticket prices have increased yet again.  Using very outdated 2001 statistics, ticket prices for the average NBA game has risen 80%, with the average ticket costing $51 - and that was in 2001!  I realize that it is oversimplistic to associate rising ticket prices to rising salaries, but there is no doubt in my mind, that ticket prices represent a large chunk of revenues for owners.       

OK, I can concede that NBA salaries are actually at a plateau – I know that the aforementioned players are actually getting market value for their worth.  After all, they’re still young, extremely productive, and are the cornerstones for their respective franchises, and most importantly, these are players that generate and retain fan interest.  As a Toronto fan, I was happy when Vince signed his contract extension for similar numbers a few years back (Disclaimer: Those were my feelings THEN, by that’s a whole other rant). 

But how can you explain it when you see such NBA luminaries as Utah’s Mehmet Okur with a 6 year, $50-million deal; Memphis’ Brian Cardinal with a 7 year; $45-million deal; Golden State’s Derek Fisher with a 6 year, $37-million deal; Boston’s Mark Blount with a 6 year; $39-million deal; Golden State’s Adonal Foyle with a 6 year, $42-million deal; Indiana’s Anthony Johnson with a $37-million deal; Minnesota’s Troy Hudson with a 6 year, $36-million deal; Washington’s Etan Thomas with a 6 year, $38-million deal; Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu with a 6 year, $38-million deal; Philadelphia’s Brian Skinner with a 5 year, $25-million deal; Toronto’s Rafer Alston signing a 6 year, $29-million deal; and Minnesota’s Trenton Hassel with a 6 year, $27-million deal. 

These deals that were all signed this previous summer are absolutely ludicrous!  These are all UNPROVEN players, and barely the cornerstone of any club.  Yes, one might argue that if they were proven players, then you’d be doubling their salary, but they’re not.  I can admit that perhaps one, maybe two, of these players will end up proving his worth, but that is a very small fraction.  And we, the fans, keep shelling out more coin to see this trend repeat itself.

Perhaps that’s it…  We, the fans, are the source of this problem.  Sometimes we forget that the power is in our hands.  We can all choose not to buy into this product, but realistically, is that going to happen?  No.  I know this, the NBA knows this, the players know this, the corporate sponsors know this; television executives know this.  And yet again, I am left with my gripe. 


If only I could write of my ticket purchase as a business expense when tax time rolls around like the many businesses that seem to be snapping up an increasing number of seats.


Name: Johnny Shaolin

Age: 27

Location: Toronto, Canada

Occupation: Network Administrator

Favorite Team: Toronto Raptors

Favorite Former Player: James Worthy (Los Angeles Lakers)

Favorite Current Player: Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors

Most Hated Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Most Hated Player: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers 

Prediction for Eastern Champs: Detroit Pistons 

Prediction for Western Champs: Sacramento Kings

Prediction for NBA Champs: Detroit Pistons