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Top 5 most interesting contract clauses in NBA history

From dogs to Bruce Springsteen, here are the 5 most peculiar contract clauses in NBA history.
Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan; Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics center Bill Walton

Michael Jordan and Bill Walton

NBA contracts don’t just involve millions of dollars; they also have clauses that aim to incentivize player performance. The phrase “player performance” is a pretty subjective matter. And so, NBA teams have come up with provisions that may look ridiculous at face value and in hindsight.

5. Zion Williamson’s Weight Clause

Zion Williamson inked a five-year, $193 million extension with the New Orleans Pelicans late last month. This amount could jump to $231 million if the forward meets the weight clause included in his deal. The clause requires Williamson to weigh in regularly. The sum of his weight and body fat percentage must be below 295 to earn the maximum amount of his deal.

The clause is weird not because the Pelicans are telling Zion to cut down on New Orleans cuisine. Besides, players like Mario Chalmers and Glen Davis also had similar weight and fitness clauses in their contracts.

What makes Williamson’s weight clause weird is that 295 seems like a disproportionate number given his height. For comparison, LeBron James stands 6’8 and is listed at 250 pounds. Ideally, since Williamson is around two inches shorter, he should weigh less than James. 295 seems like a response to the rumor that Williamson was at 300 pounds during his time off. It does not look like a number generated through careful study.

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4. Magic Johnson, $25m, 25 years

Magic Johnson’s 1984 contract worth $25 million across 25 years seems like a marketing stunt and an act of public gratitude more than anything. There’s a thing called inflation which means that $1 million in 1984 isn’t going to be worth $1 million in 2009. The Lakers organization’s goal was basically to secure Johnson for life and thank him for his services.

No, the Lakers didn’t scam Magic. In 1992 then Lakers owner Jerry Buss offered him $19.66 million over three years, including a $14.66 million balloon payment for the 1994-1995 season. Magic didn’t play in the 94-95 season due to his HIV diagnosis, but he still got the dough.

3. Steve Novak and Dog Hair

During Steve Novak’s stint with the New York Knicks, his contract included a dog clause. The man is allergic to dogs. Though there are no clear reports on how bad his allergy is, the fact that the Knicks banned him from owning one suggests it’s pretty extreme. If the Knicks ever found out that he owned a dog, he'd be slapped with a $100,000 fine which would be donated to an animal charity.

2. Michael Jordan’s Love For the Game

Michael Jordan’s love for the game clause basically stated that he could play ball whenever and wherever he wanted. Jordan could pull up to a random gym and bully some noobs or some random park to test out their chain nets.

Given Jordan’s fame and stature as the greatest of them all, it makes sense to limit his activity during the season. An injury could not just affect his team but also the entire league’s popularity ratings. But Jordan knew better. He didn’t want to be some caged animal under the beady eyes of the world. He’s at peace when he’s playing the game. And he wants to play it as much as he can.

1. Bill Walton wants his Bruce Springsteen fix

Bill Walton’s contract with the San Diego Clippers was pegged at $7 million for seven years. It also included the most interesting clause in NBA history: he wanted eight tickets to each of Bruce Springsteen’s seven sold-out shows at the Sports Arena in late October.

He had good reason to raise such a demand. Tickets rose up to $200 each at that time. And Walton made it clear: he wanted the team to help him acquire the golden tickets. He’ll pay for them at face value.

The team agreed. Perhaps they felt that if Walton had his Springsteen fix, then he would power them to the title, or at least make them a contender. Unfortunately, Walton played a mere 14 games in his first season with the Clippers. They also never made it to the playoffs. At least they gained a reputation as a willing team to accede to a star player’s demands. 

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