Tom Sorensen

Reason Stephen Curry, other top athletes deserve huge contracts is simple, really

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry deserves his $201 million contract for one simple reason.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry deserves his $201 million contract for one simple reason. AP

I was asked if it bothered me to go to the house of a professional athlete, or a team owner or executive, and know that I could not afford to live in the fashion they appear to. I said no. What a waste of a life it would be to compare what you have with people who have more (or have less).

I love cars. I love my car. I suspect Steph Curry has a better car or cars or fleet of cars than I do. He has a better jump shot, too.

The five-year, $201 million contract Curry signed last week, the richest in team sports, has attracted a lot of attention. Is one human being worth $201 million? If he can get it he is.

You can make a very good case that a teacher, doctor, fireman or police officer contributes more to society than a sweet-shooting, deft-passing point guard. But that quality has nothing to do with their salaries or with his.

It’s so simple. Exclusivity determines what we’re paid. How many people can do what we do as well we do it?

It is considerably easier to get a job in a school, hospital or clinic, fire or police department than it is to get a job in the NBA. In the NBA there are 30 teams and each has 15 players on its roster. Most of those rosters don’t have a player as effective and as popular as Curry.

Think about all the kids who grow up shooting a basketball or dribbling a basketball or passing a basketball. Think about how many say, “When I grow up I’m going to play in the NBA.” Think about how few do.

We’re odd when it comes to athletes and their money. A few years ago the then-Charlotte Bobcats contributed money to save local middle school sports. They were praised, and should have been.

They also were criticized. This is not where their money should go. How blatantly pretentious is it to tell somebody that we appreciate the money that they donated, money that they didn’t have to give, but they gave it to wrong people. So take it back.

Yeah, we’ll get right on it.

Nobody randomly pointed to Steph Curry when he was 10 and said, “You will receive the biggest contract in team sports.”

When he was 18, he couldn’t even get a scholarship to Virginia Tech.

Curry works. He developed his ball handling and his shot, and his marksmanship has altered the way the game is played.

He’s a good guy, and I’m happy for him. And I don’t care what he drives. I like my car anyway.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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