Jan 22, 2014; Coral Gables, FL, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant attends a game between the Duke Blue Devils and Miami Hurricanes at BankUnited Center.Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant's Greed Amplified By Miami Heat Trio

We get it … Shaquille O’Neal was lazy, Pau Gasol still hasn’t found his big-boy-pants, Andrew Bynum was unengaged and Dwight Howard wasn’t mentally fit to sport the purple and gold. Let’s not even discuss Smush Parker.

However, let’s talk about Kobe Bryant. None of the aforementioned (even Gasol) are likely to ever wear a Lakers jersey again, and in perfect symmetry the rookie with ultimate promise who stood tall in the limelight to move the Lakeshow forward 18 years ago, is now the respected veteran currently standing alone again.

Due to Bryant’s greed, and Jim Buss’ inexperience, the Lakers will be standing alone outside of the NBA contention gates – for another season.

It was announced yesterday that all three Miami Heat superstars will opt out of their contracts, clearing upwards of $55 million in cap space. It will allow for the Heat to “retool,” according to president Pat Riley.

It’s a collective move that (if it works in favor of the Heat) should be celebrated. In a league where we constantly question a player’s motive, it seems the Heat’s big three truly want to win. For now, they’ve made money a secondary priority.

Meanwhile Lakers fans should be asking themselves, why couldn’t Kobe do that? Should Bryant’s current level of talent, athleticism and impact on the game command more salary than LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Chris Paul?

In a previous interview with Lakers Nation, Bryant explained that he wouldn’t consider taking a pay cut after the 2014 season.

“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.”

Forget taking a pay cut, I agree with Kobe 100 percent. If there’s any player who shouldn’t be required to take a reduction in salary it’s Kobe.

After five championships, it would be blasphemous to say that Kobe doesn’t deserve a $48 million dollar send-off from the Lakers. In fact, he deserves every penny. One look at his resume and it’s easy to argue that he might deserve more.

There hasn’t been a player in the league that’s worked harder than Bryant. He won the Finals MVP twice, has been to the All-Star Game 15 times coming out with four MVP trophies, won two scoring titles (2006 and 2007), one regular season MVP award and two Olympic gold medals with the U.S. Men’s National team.

Simply put – he’s been the man in the NBA for nearly two decades.

But what about Tim Duncan, the championship he just won, and the $10.3 million he’s taking to return for his 18th season? For Duncan to be considered the greatest power forward of all time, that’s quite a pay cut. It’s selfless and reflects the Spurs culture. It’s another reason why the Spurs have remained competitive.

Bryant and the Lakers have been one of the best marriages in the NBA. It’s been a great example of dedication from both sides of the fence.

The Lakers have been one of the classiest franchises in the NBA for decades, the idea that they’d offer a two-year, $48 million contract out of loyalty, respect and admiration isn’t far fetched. However, who is Kobe Bryant truly loyal to?

Two years was all Kobe could cash in on because of the NBA’s over-age-36 rule, which prevents teams from extending players who are past that age.

Let’s be honest. Kobe Bryant did exactly what he should’ve done – for a selfish guy. After an Achilles tear and consequential knee injury, he cashed in on a payday that keeps him on the throne as the league’s highest-paid player.

At the start of last season’s playoffs, he was the highest paid player in the NBA sitting at home. What perplexes most, is the timing of Bryant’s extension, and why the Lakers completely ignored their right to use “Bird rights” to honor one of their greatest players ever.

It’s ironic that the Lakers failed to move their franchise forward in the best way possible using a rule that Boston Celtics great Larry Bird made famous. The NBA institutes a soft salary cap, meaning teams are allowed to exceed their payroll maximums for various reasons.

An exception to the cap was created to allow teams to re-sign their own players; however, it’s most commonly used for superstars that draw high salaries. The Boston Celtics were the first team to use the exception, exceeding the designated cap (at the time) to re-sign Larry Bird. Thus, the “Bird Exception.”

If the Lakers waited to fill their roster and resign Bryant towards the end of the free agency period, they’d have only $10,616,243 in dedicated salary with close to $60 million for free agent shopping. Instead Bryant will command a third of the Lakers salary cap for the next two seasons.

More than $30 million in cap room is nothing to turn a nose up to either, in a loaded free agency market, it puts the Lakers in a very advantageous position. However the Lakers history has been one of dominance, and until they commit to dominating in every facet of the league, the meager results will remain.

Not to mention who knows what kind of Kobe Bryant will return to the Lakers. Even without the Achilles tear, there was a loss of athleticism in his game. At Bryant’s tender age of 35 years, a return to form isn’t impossible but fair to say it’s improbable.

The Lakers dedicated a third of their cap to an unknown. Although Kobe’s intentions might be to wreak further havoc on the court, his contract extension was based more on more nostalgia and less intelligence.

It’s bittersweet to say the least. On one hand, an NBA icon and Lakers legend is well taken care of, and on the other the Lakers still suffer. Kobe Bryant wears his heart on his sleeve, but unfortunately when it comes to his money, it’s not painted in purple and gold.

Tags: Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers

  • thomas rickard

    It appears your article might be off a little, it seems now Lebron wants a MAX contract, he’s never been top dog, and now wants to be ome

  • thomas rickard

    Kobe’s new contract isn’t about greed, Buss, and Kupchak offered those amount of dollars, while assuring him they could still put a competitive team together, they new under new CBA it would take several years to put together a new era team, THE LAKERS TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN.

    • scxfan

      The Lakers are class. If that makes them feel good, then so be it.

      Just don’t come crying after a 50 loss season.

      • thomas rickard

        If in fact they have that bad of year, then they better make it worse and keep their protected thru 5th, 1st round pick

  • thomas rickard

    Greed would have been asking/demanding a MAX contract instead he took a 7 million a year PAY CUT.

    • scxfan

      And already absurd amount.

      But what does the average 36 year old make in the NBA?

      • thomas rickard

        The Lakers made over 100mil last year, kobe has been responsible for fan support, he and lebron are the most popular players in the word, he is among the top 3 endorsements, he brings the Lakers dollars, even when he doesn’t play, it’s true however that after fx knee television viewership dropped by 50%, people whant to see him play, and there are more lakers fans by far than any other team as reported by facebook, again equating to $$$. So the Lakers “showed him the MONEY”

  • http://HonkasaloAnalytics.com Mika Honkasalo

    If Kobe was offered 24mil he has the right to take it. Most people would. I don’t think it’s fair to comment on someone else’s financial decisions.
    Kobe is a pro athlete and he’s allowed to take as much money as he can possibly make.

    • scxfan

      He can. For sure. Its his right.

      But Kobe can shove it if he says winning is the most important thing.

      Its not……………

      • scxfan

        And of course, his health is dubious at best.

        These dumb deals seldom work out.

  • Pessimisticchiefsfan

    I will never understand the logic of giving a player big money because of what he has done in the past and not what he can bring to you during the contract. Kobe was well compensated each of his 5 championship seasons.

    The reason he was able to win 5 is for 5 seasons he had another great player on his team. With this contract and Kobe’s attitude, no star is going to come to LA for another run, and Kobe sure as hell can’t do it on his own at this point.

    The lakers need to study the “Patriot” way of doing things. Once a player can’t perform at the level they need to, they are gone.

    • Tontis Acheater

      How many NBA rings did Pau Gasol win without Kobe? Did the Pau Gasol led Grizz dynasty escape my attention? Kobe’s 5th ring was with one of the worst rosters I have ever witnessed.

      • Pessimisticchiefsfan

        You are an idiot if you actually believe what you just wrote

      • J Taylor

        Remind me how a team with a “worst roster” can win 3 playoffs series against 3 other very good teams, AND a championship series against the second best team in the league?

    • Pablo Reyna

      Is the “patriot way” the one where you video tape your

    • Nicholas Robinson

      dude youre silly we have a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion ,a billion , a billion a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , a billion , dollar tv contract with twc
      who doesnt wanna play in LA besides Dwight with his soft puthy ass

      • Pessimisticchiefsfan

        Should I type a list of all the top FA’s that haven’t signed with the lakers or were you just trying to prove how big of a lakers homer you are

        • Nicholas Robinson

          no even better send me a list of any free agent that has signed with any team this year .fact is that the lakers took a huge fall in the d12 project and now they have money too play with 16 championships for and organization free agents are not going too just throw the lakers out of their thought process!

        • J Taylor

          Type the list….
          It’s so funny how the Haters want to come here and post… and how easy it is to spot them and IMMEDIATELY disregard whatever they are saying.
          “hater” = “skip reading & ignore”

          • Pessimisticchiefsfan

            Lebron, D Wade, Carmelo (remains to be seen), Dirk, Bosh, Monroe, parsons, Stephenson, Deng….

  • Scott Johnson

    Sorry, but Kobe only won 2 finals MVPs. First three were Shaq’s team. Good try though.

    • Nicholas Robinson

      dude he meant 4 all star mvps 02,07,09,11

  • KWHeslop

    Kobe only has 1 Regular season MVP award. You said that he had 4. Now, I know that most Kobe fans are delusional and wouldn’t even question that number, but at least check your facts before your write an article. Also, the Lakers may have been a “classy” organization at some time, but that time has passed. Do you recall what they did to Derek Fisher? He meant as much the Lakers as any player not named Kobe, and they traded him away for Ramon Sessions (nothing, basically). Not exactly a classy move. If Kobe REALLY cared about the Lakers organization, and really cared about winning, he would not have taken that massive contract. He’s delusional to think that he deserves that money AND should be in title contention for these next couple of years. It’s just not realistic.

    • Nicholas Robinson

      lies .. dude youre a strictly a kobe hater

    • matt mauro

      Four all star mvps is what it says. Read it carefully. He s deserves a few more league mvps but people don’t like him.

    • J Taylor

      Why do I have to question any stats that prove he’s a top 3 (or 5) player all time? A living legend, and a player that has no equal in today’s game? The dude’s been playing 16 years and the best player in the game for most of it…..
      Why can’t you just give respect and accept Kobe’s a darn good player and earned EVERY MVP, All Star, and Championship ring that he’s earned?
      Why are there people who AUTOMATICALLY hate anyone who is the best at anything?

  • Reggie Ford

    People always want to throw shade at Kobe. He didn’t ask for the money they offer it to him, without him handcuffing them. People in their hate of Kobe overlooks how for the last 2 seasons he has gone to bat for Pau extensively. They try and said well the Big 3 sacrifice, they didn’t sacrifice because they netted about the same as they would have in any other state

    • J Taylor

      It’s funny, the team has enough money to sign 2 of the top free agents on the market this season WITHOUT having to trade, and somehow everyone is saying that Kobe’s contract is limiting their options. I

      • hookedonnews

        3 players don’t make a team, and they can’t give max contracts to two free agents. Plus you still have about 10 or 11 other players to pay. I don’t know anyone who does commentary on the NBA who doesn’t believe that giving Kobe that contract was a mistake. Of course it limits your options.

  • Julian Bryant

    Accepting a good deal is greed? Lebron opted out because he wants the max money from the Heat, which is fine and what he should do. It is just funny that you say Lebron opting out exposes Kobe’s greed when Lebron is opting out to get more… Typical “Kobe is selfish and greedy” crap we’ve been hearing the last couple years.

  • 48ww

    you don’t offer someone $24m and expect them not to take it. it was dumb of the Laker org to offer that. even if somehow Kobe took less money, success is not guaranteed. especially with the numbnuts running the Laker organization. that $24m is guaranteed and makes it worthwhile for Kobe to stay with a franchise thats heading further into the gutter

    • J Taylor

      Kobe’s only overpaid $5M.
      If he didn’t sign the contract he’d be a free agent today….
      I prefer to think of the overpayment as a downpayment for when he plays an extra “3rd year” for $8M chasing his last ring.

      • scxfan

        Would he get 19 million with his recent health issues?

  • J Taylor

    How funny, another “paid by click” article by a Fansided Article…
    A guy is the best player of a generation, has 5 rings, and is the face of a franchise….
    Sure, he got overpaid $5M… but imagine LA if Kobe were a free agent on June 1… and the bidding war that could ensue.
    *Fansided loses credibility every day as we are forced to read nonsense.

    • hookedonnews

      Kobe had already said he intended to retire a Laker. There was not going to be a bidding war. It’s not about what Kobe is worth (or has been worth). It’s about whether a player should be willing to sacrifice for the team when he asserts that winning is the most important thing. No one forced him to agree to that inflated contract. No serious person doubts that giving him that kind of money limited the options available to the Lakers for the coming season. It not only limits what they can do this year, but the following year as well. If Kobe is not able to stay healthy or play at the level expected this will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever. If you want the money, fine. Just don’t tell me that a ring is the most important thing when it clearly isn’t.

  • matt mauro

    Hes 36 yrs old…not 35. Pretty sure about that

  • Donald Allen

    How can the Lakers attract top free agents and convince them to sign reasonable contracts when they see Kobe greedily being the highest paid player in the NBA while Tim Duncan is making half of what he makes (for example) Kobe made 30 Mil last year for basically rehabbing. The Miami 3 are all going to make a lot less but make sure they have a championship lineup. If Kobe doesn’t step up to the plate and make concessions, it only means that it is all about Kobe and not the team.

    • scxfan

      LeBron can’t even get as much as Kobe.

      Mind boggling.

  • Donald Allen

    While we are having this discussion, let it be said that they need to buy out Steve Nash or try to convince him to retire but offer him a front office/assistant coach contract instead. We need to get that 10 Mil off the books.

  • Allan Hu

    Marcus, I don’t think you understand the concept of “cap holds”. Even if Kobe waits until the end of free agency to sign his contract, the CBA rules forces a “cap hold” unless the Lakers renounces his Bird rights. Lakers currently have $22 million salary cap room, but that doesn’t mean they would’ve had $46 million if Kobe didn’t sign the extension. The Lakers would only have $14 million in cap space if Kobe didn’t sign the extension because Kobe’s cap hold would be about $32 million.

    You obviously haven’t done any research nor have any knowledge of the CBA. The salary cap calculation isn’t just addition and subtraction. Maybe you will actually do some research next time before you write an article

  • Sidney

    Jurgen Klinsman, US soccer coach, was right when he pointed to Kobe as an example of you should not reward a player for past performance (when citing Landon Donovon’s diminished skills). Lakers are finished. Melo and LeBron both said no thanks. Kobe’s contract is an anchor weighing the team down; all free agents see that a championship contending team cannot be built because of that and are staying away. Kobe himself is washed up. Laughable the Lakers paid him over $20 million last year for 9 games.