If you are in the NBA nowadays, chances are you are making a lot of money. Even rookie deals or veteran minimums pay much more than they did a decade ago. It only makes sense that as the NBA has grown and flourished into one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, the amount of money these players are making has also increased.
One of the guys who was around when contracts in the NBA began to balloon was Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq made upwards of $285 million in his career just on his basketball contracts alone. Shaq’s business ventures off the court have helped him continue to make money even after he retired. But O’Neal has recognized that the money NBA players are making has increased, and he isn’t happy about it.
Durant responds to O’Neal’s comments
It goes without saying that Shaq is a wealthy man. He’s still unbelievably popular off the court even after he’s retired, and his business ventures and endorsements still see him earning millions of dollars every year. It’s also fair to wonder how much more money Shaq could have made had he been playing in the NBA nowadays.
O’Neal has had some beef with Gobert in the past, so it isn’t surprising to see him fire a shot at him here when discussing how much money players make nowadays. Gobert is a solid all-around player, but he’s basically made the same amount of money as Shaq did throughout his career. Shaq and Gobert aren’t comparable players.
While Shaq has a point, Kevin Durant chimed in to let him know he’s not a guy who should be worried about money. Durant saw Shaq’s comments on Twitter and quickly noted it, saying, “Shaquille is hilarious. You’re a billionaire bro lol.”
Does Shaq have a legitimate gripe about how much money he made throughout his career?
When Shaq was the first overall draft pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, he earned $3 million in his rookie season. Thirty years later, the first overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft, Paolo Banchero, will be making upwards of $9 million in the first year of his rookie deal. As the game has grown, so has the money associated with it.
The best players in the league are making over $40 million per year now, which was unheard of just a few years ago. A player like O’Neal would undoubtedly make that much nowadays during the peak of his career. He’s right to say that a guy like Gobert should not be making as much as he did throughout his career.
But for Shaq, who has hundreds of millions of dollars, his complaints will most likely fall on deaf ears. Durant recognized this and said what pretty much everyone else was thinking; we’d love to have the type of money Shaq has. He probably could have made more if he played nowadays, but the same will ring true for these players 20 years from now.
O’Neal isn’t wrong for wanting more money, but to diss a guy like Gobert in this instance seems like a low blow. Many guys get paid more than they are worth throughout the league, but that’s just how the financials of the game work now. Shaq can be upset here, but nobody will pity him, given how much money he still has.