During his time with the Miami Heat, LeBron James and his teammate Chris Bosh were two of the highest-paid players on the team. At that time, James knew he was the best basketball player in the world and felt he was contributing more than anyone on the team in terms of the talent and value he brought.
According to ESPN's veteran journalist Brian Windhorst, also from Akron, Ohio, The King didn't like the idea that he wasn't the highest-paid player on the team.
Windhorst revealed James was bitter
Windhorst, who was covering James and the Heat at the time, said that he once went up to James and told him that he wasn't the highest-paid player on the Heat. The journalist noted James' bitter voice when he replied to him and said that the former went on a rant about why he shouldn't be the seventh-highest paid player in the league then.
"I brought up to him that he had never actually been the highest-paid player on his team, he was tied as the highest-paid player with Chris Bosh, but he wasn't the highest-paid player. His head snapped around, and he goes 'that's an untold story' and he kind of went off on a rant about being underpaid, which he was, he was underpaid," Windhorst said in his latest episode of the Hoop Collective.
From the outside looking in, it seems James wasn't mad at the fact that Bosh was on the same pay grade as him but at the idea that he should be earning more. In 2013, there was a lot of smoke about how underpaid the 4-time champion was and how much of a bargain his 6-year $110 million deal was for the Miami Heat in 2010. James felt that he should've been the highest-paid player in the league to compensate for the work and value he was rendering.
To quote Bleacher Report's Conor Volpe in 2013: "James was getting paid pennies compared to how much the Heat are raking in thanks to him."
The consequences of sharing a team with co-superstars
Ultimately, LeBron was in this situation because he wanted to team up with Bosh and his best friend Dwyane Wade in Miami in the first place. That's just the consequence of sharing a team with fellow superstars. James did reap the benefits of the superteam he formed anyway, as he wouldn't have his two rings without Wade and Bosh's services.
However, what really threw James off was that the Heat didn't upgrade his paycheck despite significantly earning more when James took his talents to South Beach.
Because of James, the Heat's value ascended from $364 to $624 million as the team became the sixth-most valuable franchise in the NBA. Thanks to James, the franchise's revenue dramatically grew because of ticket sales, merchandise, TV viewership, etc.
So all James wanted in return was to get more out of the value he single-handedly gave to the Miami Heat. It didn't sit right with him that the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, and Joe Johnson were making more in those years just for their talent alone. This ultimately was one of the reasons why he decided to go back to Clevland and never take anything but the max.