Kobe Bryant to Become NBA's Second Ever $30-Million Player
Bryant is scheduled to earn $26 million in 2011-12, $28.7 million in 2012-13 and $31.5 million in 2013-2014.
For his career, Bryant has already eclipsed Jordan's total NBA salary. Those two $30-million seasons were Jordan's only campaigns in which he was paid an NBA salary greater than $4 million. Bryant made $9 million as a 21-year-old in his fourth NBA season. Including this season, Kobe has earned more than $170 million in NBA salary. Once the newly inked extension ends, Bryant will have been paid $280 million by the Lakers.
The extension also settles a score of sorts for Kobe. To date, former teammate and rival Shaquille O'Neal had been No. 2 on the NBA's all-time list for highest salary in a single season, behind Jordan. Shaq earned $27.7 million in 2004-05. That was the final season of a contract the Lakers signed O'Neal to in 1996. Bryant has two seasons on this extension over Shaq's peak salary.
These figures and this unofficial contest remain inexact, as 8-9 percent of player salary is currently held in escrow due to stipulations of the current collective bargaining agreement. Last season, because player salary exceeded a certain percentage of league revenue, players did not get those escrow funds back. They will not see that money this season, either.
There's also the specter of a new collective bargaining agreement beginning in 2011, with owners having threatened to adjust signed contract downward. It remains unclear as to whether that will pass legal muster, or whether owners will even attempt it. There could also be a lock-out in 2011, and in the 1998 lock-out which cost the league 32 games, players were not paid during their time off.