As the NBA is undergoing dramatic changes on the financial front, Kobe Bryant is fighting not only the perception that he's overpaid but the overall criticism heaped on player contracts. In an interview at Lakers practice on Tuesday, the Lakers guard explained why he went to Twitter a few weeks back to criticize the perception that he's overpaid, reports ESPN's Baxter Holmes.
"We are overpaid, but so are the owners. And you have to fight for what your market value is," Bryant said.
Bryant, in a video clip posted by Lakers Nation, said he wants fans to understand that it's only fair to fight for his. After all, the money is being made, and players are owed 51 percent of NBA revenues.
"Business is business, and I think people get that confused very easily in understanding that players should take less than their market values ... to win championships," Bryant said. "We don't look at what the owners get paid and the revenue they generate off the backs of their players."
Bryant's contract might take on more criticism than any. The 36-year-old has struggled with injuries, but signed a two-year, $48 million deal to remain in Los Angeles this season and next. Comparing stars' salaries to the average doesn't make business sense, according to Bryant, especially not with the upcoming changes.
The league could see another lockout in 2017 with both the players and the league able to opt out of their current collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, a new television deal with ESPN and Turner kicks in and is expected to double NBA revenue -- that directly impacts the basketball-related income that sets the salary cap each year.
Bryant promises he isn't complaining. He says he wants to educate the public while helping the players hold their ground if another lockout nears. He wants fans to understand he and other stars such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant aren't making their market value, according to an interview with CBS Sports' Ken Berger.
"You can't be a business person if the decisions that you make are held hostage by the perception that others have of you," Bryant said to CBS. "You can't be a successful businessman, from my point of view, and sit in a room with these owners -- who are phenomenal business people -- and have a peer-to-peer conversation if they know at the end of the day you're going to capitulate to public perception."
Currently, the NBA only imposes taxes on teams that exceed the salary cap -- known as a soft cap -- but owners are expected to pursue a hard cap or something closer to it when the collective bargaining agreement is renegotiated, according to CBS Sports. Creating more firm limits on team salaries would limit how much players make even more.
For players with less stature than Bryant and James, it could mean settling for less money if the firm salary amounts are taken up by the stars. Then, arguably, none would be getting their due pay.
With his comments, Bryant has strategically begun building support before players and owners sit down to discuss any changes to the financial structure of the league. Whether it changes how fans view multi-million dollar deals remains to be seen.