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Does Jerry Buss Believe Kobe Bryant Is Worth $70 Million a Year to the Lakers?

The NBA owners have locked out the players and the sides are working on negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. There is currently a soft salary cap and a maximum placed on the amount of money players can earn. Kobe Bryant is the top earner in the NBA in terms of annual salary, making just over $25 million per season. Few people would argue that he’s not worth more to the Lakers organization. According to a report, team owner Jerry Buss agrees.

In a column on NBA player salaries not matching the value of true stars, Adrian Wojnarowski drops in the following nugget.

“Privately, Jerry Buss has told people that Bryant – who will make a league-high $25 million this season under his current contract terms – is worth perhaps $70 million a year to the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Players like Kobe capitalize on endorsement deals so it’s not as if they’re not making major money. Still, few people would say the game’s superstars are not worth more than they make from their teams. On the other hand, most of the bench players and mid-level guys are worth far less than what they make.

The information above may serve as an argument to remove the salary cap and make the NBA a free market system. I disagree. The most competitive leagues have hard salary caps because that puts teams on equal footing. Look at the NFL and NHL — teams have hope that they can succeed from year-to-year whereas MLB and NBA teams pretty much already know where they stand before seasons begin. Now if you want to remove maximum contracts, that is reasonable. However, it would likely come at the cost of the NBA’s mid-level players, for whom owners might have less money.

Thank you, I am a GM

Jeff Van Gundy: ‘Very Few People Care About the NBA Lockout’

Whether you are a Jeff Van Gundy fan or not, you have to admire him for not being afraid to tell it like it is.  Van Gundy is one of the most opinionated figures in basketball and has never been afraid to trash the league that has allowed him to make a living.  Jeff has even been willing to take shots at his brother, Stan, when he feels he deserves it.  At times he can get creepily carried away, but people usually listen when Van Gundy sounds off.

During an appearance on KILT in Houston Thursday morning, Van Gundy laid out a few hard truths about the current labor situation in the NBA.  Here’s what Jeff said about the NBA lockout, as passed along by Sports Radio Interviews via Deadspin.

“You know what I was thinking about today, and even yesterday, is how very few people care about the NBA lockout,” Van Gundy said. “You just don’t hear people talk. If it wasn’t on sports talk or ESPN… would anybody even know? You have to be careful if you’re both ownership and players—that you realize with the economy and so many other options with your disposable income—don’t think it will always stay like it has. It can go the other way.

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Kobe Reportedly Says He Didn’t Like Shaq’s Poor Practice Habits

The tension between Kobe and Shaq has been evident for years. The two won three championships as teammates on the Lakers, but their strong personalities constantly clashed, eventually forcing the franchise to choose between the stars. The Lakers chose the younger Bryant and traded the older O’Neal. It worked; while Shaq immediately won a title with the Heat and dissed Kobe in a rap song, Bryant got the last laugh by surpassing him in titles.

One of the big reasons why the superstars clashed, and why the Lakers chose to keep Bryant, is because of Shaq’s poor work ethic.

Kobe is currently on a promotional tour in Europe, and during an interview with an Italian radio station, he reportedly discussed the friction between himself and Shaq. According to Sportando.net, via I am a GM, Kobe dished on Shaq’s poor practice habits.

“I like players who workout. I use to do that 6/7 hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes,” Bryant reportedly said of Shaq. “I need to say something to them.”

While we’ve gotten on Kobe’s case for practicing hard to show everyone how hard he practices, nobody questions his work ethic. If Shaq had Kobe’s drive and desire, he would have had an even better career. But Shaq was never motivated by being recognized as the greatest player ever. He was content being one of the best players of all-time, while also enjoying himself. That divergence is the heart of a lot of conflict between the men. Few will argue that Kobe has the wrong approach to practice.

Chest bump to I am a GM

Delonte West Gets Job in Stock Room at Furniture Store

Back in August, we told you that Delonte West was applying for a job at Home Depot after a judge denied him the freedom to play basketball overseas. Apparently things didn’t work out with the power of the Home Depot, so West decided to apply for a position in the stock room at Regency Furniture. The NBA guard shared a picture from his first day at work, as well as his job application:

We highly recommend you read his job application. West says he heard about the job through “word of mouth.” He seems like quite the willing employee, saying he’s available to work any time of day, not to mention weekends. In fact, he wrote that he was available to start working “yesturday.” Luckily spelling is not a skill required for the position. Let’s just hope he’s entitled to an employee discount. What’s the point in moving futons and sofas all day if you can’t at least get a deal out of it?

Thanks to Jose3030 for the heads up
Picture Credits: Delonte West on Twitter here and here

Kevin Durant Thinks Exhibition Games are Starting to Get Played Out

Kevin DurantKevin Durant has been one of the stars of the offseason, building his brand and increasing his fan appeal by playing in exhibition games all over the country. The Thunder star lit up Rucker Park in August, played against LeBron and Melo in Baltimore, and beat the Drew League in the Capital Punishment game. A rematch of the Goodman League-Drew League game is scheduled for October 9th in LA, and Drew League representative Brandon Jennings reached out to Durant to make sure he would be there.

“Hope you ready for that rematch on the 9th in LA. Welcome to the Westside,” Jennings wrote to Durant on Twitter.

“Yeah I am,” Durant replied, “But on da real..all these game are starting to get played out. But I’m ready for the rematch.”

The tweet from Durant may not seem like much, but there are some important takeaways. Durant has been one of the most active players during the summer and thinks the exhibitions are getting old. That’s not a good sign for the players. NBA training camps have been canceled, as have some preseason games. This would be the time players are gearing up for the season to begin. Just a simple tweet like that makes it pretty clear that some players are eager to get back to meaningful games. They better not let the owners know that, because they don’t want anything hurting their position in negotiations.

Chest bump to I am a GM for the tip

Dirk Nowitzki Shafted by NBA 2K12’s Player Ratings

Many player ratings for the popular basketball video game NBA 2K12 were revealed Tuesday. We already knew that LeBron James was ranked higher than Kobe Bryant, but we didn’t know that reigning Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki got the shaft.

Pasta Padre posted the ratings for any player who got higher than an 80. It was disturbing how far down the list one had to go before finding Dirk.

Dirk Nowitzki was tied for 14th in the ratings. He received an 85, tying him with Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Manu Ginobili, and Rajon Rondo. Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol were somehow rated higher than Dirk.

The reasoning for Dirk’s low score makes little sense.

“Our overall rating formulas are position specific, weighting attributes that are more relevant for that type of player. For example, passing and speed are weighted more for point guards, where rebounding and shot blocking are factored heavily for centers,” the game’s development team told Ball Don’t Lie.

Sounds like a pretty poor reason, right? All it would take is one look at the list to know there’s something wrong with the system. How can you possible have Rudy Gay rated higher than Dirk Nowitzki? I don’t care what adjustment they make, but some tweaking is needed for the ratings to reflect reality. Dirk Nowitzki is a top-five player in the NBA and should be rated that way based on any metric.

Yao Ming is Going Back to School

Oftentimes when there is a work stoppage in a professional sports league, players will go back to school.  Anthony Randolph has chosen to go back to LSU during the NBA lockout and was even considering joining a fraternity.  Unfortunately for Yao Ming, injuries have derailed his career and he will not be playing basketball when the labor situation is sorted it.  He will, however, still be doing the whole going back to school thing.

Yao will reportedly attend Shanghai’s Jiaotong University but has yet to decide what he will study.  Jiaotong University is one of the most prestigious schools in China, and Yao will receive one-on-one teaching while in attendance.  According to his agent, the 7-foot-6 center does not want to become a distraction to the other students by sitting in a classroom with them.  Yao enrolled at Jiatong just before he headed to the U.S. to begin his basketball career but was too busy to complete the requirements.

As you may remember, Yao also received an honorary degree from the University of Hong Kong for his role in HIV/AIDS research back in 2008.  Between his honorary doctorate in social sciences and an education from one of China’s top university’s, it appears Dr. Ming will make up for what his basketball career lacked with a respectable background in higher education.  That’s more than most who have had their careers cut short by injury can say.