Curry not worth $201 mil­lion, de­serves it

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - SCOTT FOWLER

Let’s start with this: No hu­man be­ing on the planet needs to make a guar­an­teed $201 mil­lion over five years, in­clud­ing Stephen Curry.

When some public school teach­ers are for­tu­nate to make $40,000 a year, no ath­lete needs to av­er­age $40 mil­lion (which, at that rate, would fund 1,000 school teach­ers a year). No CEO needs $40 mil­lion a year, ei­ther. OK, if a sci­en­tist comes up with a flatout cure for cancer, sure, he de­serves it. Oth­er­wise, no­body.

But any­one who fol­lows pro­fes­sional sports knows that salaries shot out of the strato­sphere long ago. That ship has sailed into or­bit. And given the crazy world that the NBA in­hab­its, no ath­lete on the planet de­serves a five-year, $201 mil­lion con­tract more than Curry.

That’s the deal Curry has agreed to with the Golden State War­riors, and it is the rich­est in NBA his­tory.

You could see this one com­ing from a mile away. Dell Curry, Steph’s fa­ther and the all-time lead­ing scorer in Char­lotte Hor­nets his­tory, told me last week in an in­ter­view that the like­li­hood of his son re-sign­ing with Golden State was “very, very high.”

“It’s not a 100 per­cent chance un­til it’s done,” Dell said, “but it’s close to that.”

Now we’re at 100 per­cent — and $201 mil­lion over five years for Steph, a “su­per­max” deal that will mean Curry will make more per year than any other ath­lete in any of the four ma­jor Amer­i­can pro team sports. (On the other hand, his $400,000 per game av­er­age — as­sum­ing he plays 100 games per sea­son, in­clud­ing ex­hi­bi­tions and the play­offs — would not touch the $1 mil­lion per game the Carolina Panthers paid Julius Pep­pers way back in 2009).

A two-time NBA Most Valu­able Player who played col­le­giately at David­son and in high school at Char­lotte Chris­tian, Curry wasn’t among the top 75 high­est-paid play­ers in the NBA this past sea­son. So many deals had zoomed past his, and he was get­ting paid less than a lot of NBA bench-warm­ers.

Here’s an ex­am­ple that should drive that point home: Curry made less last sea­son than Miles Plum­lee, who was briefly a Hor­nets bench-warmer be­fore Char­lotte came to its senses and traded him away. Curry also made roughly half as much as the Hor­nets’ Nic Ba­tum.

So, yes, Curry is mak­ing up for lost time here. He’s get­ting what he can when he can, straight off his sec­ond NBA ti­tle.

And no one should re­ally be­grudge him for it. Again, solely by NBA terms, no one de­serves it more. Curry told me in an in­ter­view in Novem­ber he was con­cen­trat­ing not on free agency but on mesh­ing with Kevin Du­rant and pur­su­ing a sec­ond NBA cham­pi­onship.

“I don’t want to worry about free agency,” Curry said then, “un­til hope­fully we’re cel­e­brat­ing some good things in the sum­mer.”

All that came to pass. The War­riors went an as­tound­ing 16-1 in the post­sea­son. Now Curry can only hope his fa­vorite NFL team can find any­where near the same level of suc­cess.

Drafted No. 7 over­all by Golden State in 2009, Curry is the best shooter the NBA has ever seen. As a point guard, he plays the NBA’s most im­por­tant po­si­tion. He puts butts in seats. His No. 30 jersey is the league’s No. 1 seller. And he wins, again and again.

So if any ath­lete de­serves $201 mil­lion, it’s Steph Curry.

For Char­lotte Hor­nets fans, of course, this is all a bit dis­ap­point­ing.

There has long been a pipe dream among Hor­nets fans of lur­ing Curry back to his home­town, but for the past few years that is all it has been — an un­re­al­is­tic idea that never had a shot of hap­pen­ing.

Curry has built his dream home in the Bay Area and has a fam­ily life so out­wardly per­fect it was re­cently mocked by rap­per Drake in a hi­lar­i­ous spoof of the movie Get Out.

By the time Curry is a free agent again, in 2022, he will be 34 and a 13-year NBA vet­eran. The Hor­nets might — but only might — be able to af­ford him then. His fa­ther played 16 sea­sons, so Steph likely will have a few good ones left even then.

As for now, Curry will stay in Golden State, hop­ing to win a hand­ful more NBA cham­pi­onships in the com­ing five years.

No, he shouldn’t be paid more than 1,000 school teach­ers put to­gether.

But that’s the world we live in. And if any­one in the NBA de­serves this megadeal, it’s Steph Curry. A gen­er­ous soul by na­ture, I am sure he will spread the money around and do some good with it.

Be happy for him. I am.

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