Kobe Bryant Claims He’s Underpaid, Says LeBron James Deserves $75M

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By James Patrick Quizon | August 24, 2014 1:36 AM EST

Kobe Bryant signed a huge deal worth $48.5 million with the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason to extend his stay with the Hollywood franchise for two more years. The contract, which is valued at $23.5 million for the upcoming 2014-2015 season and $25 million the following season, is ranked the highest in the next couple of years.

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Kobe Bryant of NBA's Los Angeles Lakers speaks at a panel for the Showtime television documentary "Kobe Bryant's Muse" during the Television Critics Association Cable Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California July 18, 2014.

But according to Bryant, the Lakers superstar and franchise player, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard, he is way underpaid and players like him and LeBron James do not get their deserved salary.

Bryant’s take is most likely correct considering his value—and LeBron’s—bring in more cash for their respective franchises. According to a recent Forbes report on NBA teams, the Lakers are valued at $1.35 billion and last season took in revenue of roughly $300 million. In other words, the Lakers have enough to pay Bryant despite his brush with major injuries in recent years. Kobe Bryant went on to say that he took a pay cut for the Los Angeles squad and that he is glad that the owners gave him the hefty contract.

Kobe Bryant did not stop there however as the 35-year-old took a slight shot at the Lakers ownership—and the entire group of NBA owners for that matter—on how in the end, franchises run their NBA teams for a bigger piece of the pie in the multi-billion dollar business of the NBA.

While Kobe Bryant may be correct in his financial valuation to the Lakers franchise, the league’s salary cap rules as per the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) limits what superstars can earn annually.

While Bryant took a slight pay cut— he earned over $30 million last season and was set for an increase to around $33 million annually—the move never really helped the Lakers in their mission to build a title contender surrounding Bryant for the upcoming or next. The Lakers missed out on big free agents like Carmelo Anthony, who stayed with the New York Knicks and had to settle on offseason acquisitions like Jeremy Lin (trade with Houston Rockets); Carlos Boozer (via waivers); and Julius Randle (rookie draft). The Lakers retained own free agents Jordan Hill, Nick Young and Ryan Kelly but lost Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls.

Kobe Bryant claims that he’s underpaid despite being owed $48.5 million for the next two years. With two major surgeries in his ankle and knee, there’s only one way the Black Mamba can prove that he’s worth that or more; and that is to lead the Lakers to at least a playoffs appearance in the 2014-2015 NBA season.

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(Photo: REUTERS / Mario Anzouni)
Kobe Bryant of NBA's Los Angeles Lakers speaks at a panel for the Showtime television documentary "Kobe Bryant's Muse" during the Television Critics Association Cable Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California July 18, 2014.
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