Let’s start with this: No human being on the planet needs to be making a guaranteed $201 million over five years, including Steph Curry.
When some public school teachers are fortunate to make $40,000 a year, no athlete needs to average $40 million (which, at that rate, would fund 1,000 school teachers a year). No CEO needs $40 million a year, either. OK, if a scientist comes up with a flat-out cure for cancer, sure, she deserves it. Otherwise, nobody.
But anyone who follows professional sports knows that salaries shot out of the stratosphere long ago. That ship has sailed into orbit. And given the crazy world that the NBA inhabits, no athlete on the planet deserves a five-year, $201-million contract more than Steph Curry.
That’s the deal Curry has agreed to with the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN, and it is the richest in NBA history.
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You could see this one coming a mile away. Dell Curry, Steph’s father and the all-time leading scorer in Charlotte Hornets history, told me last week in an interview that the likelihood of his son re-signing with Golden State was “very, very high.”
“It’s not a 100 percent chance until it’s done,” Dell said, “but it’s close to that.”
Now we’re at 100 percent – and $201 million over five years for Steph, a “supermax” deal that will mean Curry will make more per year than any other athlete in any of the four major American pro team sports. (On the other hand, his $400,000 per game average – assuming he plays 100 games per season, including exhibitions and the playoffs – would not touch the $1 million per game the Carolina Panthers paid Julius Peppers way back in 2009).
The deal was applauded on Twitter by Curry’s chief rival, LeBron James.
A two-time NBA Most Valuable Player who played collegiately at Davidson and in high school at Charlotte Christian, Curry wasn’t among the top 75 highest-paid players in the NBA this past season. So many deals had zoomed past his that he was getting paid less than a lot of NBA benchwarmers.
Here’s an example that should drive that point home: Curry made less last season than Miles (Oh, Sorry, I’m Injured Again) Plumlee, who was briefly a Hornets benchwarmer before Charlotte came to its senses and traded him away. Curry also made roughly half as much as the Hornets’ Nic Batum.
So, yes, Curry is making up for lost time here. He’s getting what he can when he can, straight off his second NBA title.
And no one should really begrudge him for it. Again, solely by NBA terms, no one deserves it more. Curry told me in an exclusive interview in November he was concentrating not on free agency but on meshing with Kevin Durant and pursuing a second NBA championship.
“I don't want to worry about free agency,” Curry said then, leaning against a wall in his home arena in Oakland, “until hopefully we're celebrating some good things in the summer.”
All that came to pass. The Warriors went an astounding 16-1 in the postseason. Now Curry – a diehard Carolina Panthers fan – can only hope his favorite NFL team can find anywhere near the same level of success.
Drafted No. 7 overall by Golden State in 2009, Curry is the best shooter the NBA has ever seen. As a point guard, he plays the NBA’s most important position. He puts butts in seats. His No. 30 jersey is the league’s No. 1 seller. And he wins, again and again.
So if any athlete deserves $201 million, it’s Steph Curry.
For Charlotte Hornets fans, of course, this is all a bit disappointing.
There has long been a pipe dream among Hornets fans of luring Curry back to his hometown, but for the last few years that is all it has been – an unrealistic idea that never had a shot of happening.
Curry has built his dream home in the Bay Area and has a family life so outwardly perfect it was recently mocked by rapper Drake in a hilarious spoof of the movie “Get Out.”
By the time Curry is a free agent again, in 2022, he will be 34 and a 13-year NBA veteran. The Hornets might – but only might – be able to afford him then. (His father played 16 seasons, so Steph likely will have a few good ones left even then).
As for now, Curry will stay in Golden State, hoping to win a handful more NBA championships in the coming five years.
No, he shouldn’t be paid more than 1,000 school teachers put together.
But that’s the world we live in. And if anyone in the NBA deserves this megadeal, it’s Steph Curry. A generous soul by nature, I am sure he will spread the money around and do some good with it. Be happy for him. I am.