Poole: Steph still underpaid despite NBA’s highest salary appeared first on NBC Sports Bayarea
Shortly after Warriors training camp begins next month, Stephen Curry will get his first win of the season. The first salary of the $48.1 million he will earn in the first year of a contract that makes him the highest-paid player in the NBA.
And yet, he is underpaid.
The Warriors are flawless. adhere to the collective labor agreement, which sets out contractual guidelines. Curry is at the top of the scale. Supermax level.
If blame is to be assigned, point it at Curry. He has become so financially efficient — in Golden State’s franchise, in the Bay Area, in the league, in the world basketball game — that his monetary value defies limitations. It cannot be paid its value.
Despite being a Day 1 priority for the ownership group led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, the Chase Center likely wouldn’t exist without the stunning upside of the franchise centered on Curry. Fame, glory and the visualization of future dollars have a way of opening doors and boosting the power of persuasion.
“I don’t think the Chase Center would have been built (without Curry),” says Bob Dorfman, a longtime San Francisco-based sports marketing analyst. “And the team certainly wouldn’t have had the success they have without building things around Steph.
“Look at the value of the team. They are second in the league. In the last 10 years, this has skyrocketed. Yes, it’s definitely worth twice what it makes.”
Doubling Curry’s contract to $96.2 million is inching toward his financial value — but still not close.
Consider Curry the No. 1 reason the Warriors, bought for $450 million in 2010 and valued at $750 million before winning the 2015 NBA Finals, are valued at $5.6 billion on the latest annual list of valuations published by Forbes. Quick math tells us that’s just over a 12-fold increase in 12 years.
“I can’t think of anyone else who has driven this kind of transformation for a franchise,” says Dorfman. “They weren’t rags. they had a pretty strong fan base. But nothing like what they are now.”
Consider, too, that Curry is the No. 1 reason the Warriors won four championships in eight years, which makes him the No. 1 reason why it’s rare to walk 20 steps within 50 miles of the Bay Bridge without to see someone wearing team gear.
Curry is the No. 1 reason the Warriors generally dominate local NBA television. Their viewership last season was more than double that of the second-place Cavaliers. It’s the No. 1 reason Golden State will once again lead the league in national television appearances in 2022-23.
“I don’t know how you value that,” Dorfman says, “but it’s certainly worth more than $48 million a year.
“And it’s even things like people coming to games an hour or two early to watch him warm up. They eat more food, drink more beer. Or hanging out [in] Thrive City to get close to him.”
Curry has stimulated and cultivated the Bay Area sports landscape like no other athlete before – more so than a long list of Hall of Famers that includes Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Rickey Henderson, Rick Barry.
There is no doubt that Barry Bonds’ presence and power provided the momentum that lifted the Giants out of Candlestick Park and into the gem that is Oracle Park. But Barry’s image certainly limited his potential as a complete game changer.
“No player that I can think of has had the impact Steph has had here,” says Dorfman, who has been in the Bay Area since 1985. “Think about Barry Bonds, but he didn’t turn the Giants into winners. He was just a guy who was so good one who wouldn’t go to the bathroom when he was at bat.’
“Football is different because there are 11 guys on each side. So is baseball. San Diego gets Juan Soto, but so what? They are still not doing well. Basketball is a sport where one player can really change things.”
With image, act and popularity, Steph has turned casual basketball fans into screaming maniacs and forced casual fans to shell out $400 dollars for a pair of upper bowl seats at the Chase Center.
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Curry is a man of the people. An ambassador for the game who signs autographs at all 30 NBA arenas, shows up to unveil new basketball arenas he funded, takes time to visit and donate to community groups in need.
A 9-year-old girl who can’t find her basketball shoe and a college without a golf program will happily tell you their communication that Steph led to make their dream come true.
I can’t put a price on that no matter how huge the salary.
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