I was reading an article this morning in the NY Times about the skyrocketing salaries in the NBA. The starts by pointing out that Reggie Jackson - who has never been an All-Star - just signed a deal for $80 million over 5 years. And that seems par for the course. Really?!
The NBA signed a $24 billion TV deal which goes into effect next year. If there were no salary cap, what do you think LeBron would earn? I mean, Reggie Jackson will be earning $15 million/yr. At $30 million, LeBron is only valued as twice as valuable as Reggie Jackson?
Would $100 million/yr be commensurate with his star power? He is universally acknowledged as the best basketball player in the world right now. And he has a charisma and a persona that is working well for him on the marketing front as well. If there were not salary cap - and the league has $24 billion in TV money to spend - I think one of the teams would definitely pony up $100 million for LeBron.
Is that fair? I think so. Let me turn the question around: Is it fair that LeBron's ability to to earn his full potential is capped? Tom Cruise's salary for his next movie is not capped? Sergey and Larry's earnings are not capped? Nor is Mark Zuckerberg's.
LeBron is leaving hundred's of millions of dollars on the table. Now. don't get me wrong - no one needs to cry for LeBron - he is wealthy beyond measure. This is just a thought exercise about real value vs realized compensation. I think it would be a more interesting challenge if the "max deal" LeBron could earn was not a simple algorithm, but actually based on what an owner was willing to risk.
Up's the ante a bit, don't you think?