Follow the Money—Sports

Why Guys Are Getting Paid Big

Your Weekly $ Pioneer—1st One of the Blog!


Your $ Pioneer

Your $ Pioneer

From here on out, I’m making it my goal to post this segment once a week to give some insight into how professional athletes’ salaries got to the ginormous levels they’re at today. After all, that is the purpose of this site. 


Today’s subject is THE GUY as far as money in sports goes. It’s not because of the physical amount of money he made in his day (which, by today’s standards, is next to nothing) but because of what he represented.

That man is none other than former St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood, and the year was 1970.

Here’s Flood’s story for background into why he’s such a pioneer for player contracts.

In a nutshell, Flood is the guy that started it all. When you see Alex Rodriguez sign a $250 million contract on a televised press conference, it’s because of Curt Flood that it’s even possible.


September 24, 2008 Posted by | Weekly $ Pioneers | | Leave a comment

NBA Big Men Are Getting Richer

It’s not quite certain when exactly it started. Could it be Raef LaFrentz? What about Yao Ming? Maybe it really started with Shaquille O’Neal’s $60+million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 1995? 

When it comes down to it, the current precedent in the NBA is to pay your power forwards a pile of money, and pay your centers even more. While it’s true that there are currently a number of great power forwards in the league (Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, etc.) who are earning a lot, and, for their talent, deservedly so, the more disturbing part of the current NBA is how much overrated centers are currently earning.

When I say that certain centers in the league are overrated, I’m going solely off of the stat sheet. There’s no stat for ‘number of picks set’ or ‘genuinely nice guy,’ but there are plenty for points, rebounds and blocks, which are the hallmarks of any good big man, especially a center. An overrated center to me is someone who doesn’t contribute solidly in at least one (more likely two) of those categories on a regular basis. If a guy who starts every night in the post averages 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, but is currently on a contract of $35 million over four years, I’d say that guy’s an overpaid, overrated center. The way the league has changed since 2000, stats such as those I just listed have been matched with huge dollar amounts, and with greater frequency.

Let’s take a look at some of the more extreme contracts out there to help illustrate the point that center contracts are ballooning despite low in-game production……….

1.) Erick Dampier (Dallas)—Dampier is one of my favorite examples for this topic because he embodies low production with a large pay check. In August of 2004, he signed with the Mavericks for seven years and $73 million. He received the high bid because in his last season with Golden State in 2003-04, he averaged highly productive 12 points, 11 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game. Since ’04, his numbers have never reached that peak. In fact, in four seasons in Dallas, he’s never averaged more than 9.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. Last season, he finished with 6 points and 7 boards a game.    

2.) Desagana Diop (Dallas)—Diop is another nice example here because his big contract came just a couple months ago. Mavericks fans should be a bit troubled, though, because this is the second center the team has signed that is making way more than his production should allow. In July, Diop signed for five years and $32.39 million. This contract, while not nearly as large as his teammate Dampier’s, is troubling because Diop has never averaged more than 3 points and 5 rebounds a game in his entire seven-year career.    

3.) Ben Wallace (Cleveland)—Let me start out by saying that there was once a time when Ben Wallace was a bargain at any price. He used to be a perennial rebound machine and Defensive Player of the Year. But that was during his time in Detroit. In 2006, he became an unrestricted free agent and was snatched up by the Chicago Bulls for $52 million over four years. He also turned 32 in the same year, so, as players who get past their peak age start to do, his skills declined. He went from a prolific rebounder and defensive anchor to being just average. In 2006-07, he averaged a semi-respectable 6.4 points and 10.7 rebounds, but last season, his numbers took another dive, this time to 4.2 points and 7.4 rebounds. For a guy who averaged better than two blocks a game for most of his career, in the last two he hasn’t averaged more than one. The Bulls became fed up with his low production and general attitude, so they traded him to the Cavaliers at last season’s trading deadline. At 34 years old, Wallace is suddenly not the force to be reckoned with he was just three years ago.    

4.) Raef LaFrentz (Portland)—LaFrentz’ contract, which he inked with none other than the Mavericks in July of 2002, has paid him $70 million over the last seven years. This may be the mother of all outrageous center contracts, because LaFrentz has been one of the least productive, oft-injured players in the NBA over the last five years. Only three times in his 10-year career has he played in 80 games. And since signing his albatross contract with Dallas, he’s been traded twice—first to Boston and then to Portland. Last season in Portland, he played in only 38 games and averaged 1.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and half of a block.    

5.) Jerome James (New York)—

September 16, 2008 Posted by | NBA, Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments