Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dwyane Wade vs. Kobe Bryant: Key Difference Is Sacrifice

Fans like to compare Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant on the court, but it's their differences off-the-court that separates them.

Sacrifice: Wade > Kobe
It was hard to believe the statement in Tim Reynolds Associated Press article that Wade was never the highest paid player on his team.

Since rookie scale contracts were added to the collective bargaining agreement in 1995 and modified in 1999, first round picks had no hope of being the highest-paid player on their team unless they were surrounded by veterans on minimum contracts. Wade's rookie contract expired in 2007.

Here's where Wade's salary ranked on the HEAT from 2008 to 2012.

Should Wade get credit for sacrifice when Riley and HEAT salary cap specialist Andy Elisburg were the ones that traded for Shaq, Marion and Jermaine O'Neal? Yes.

Wade's the Shadow GM for the HEAT franchise. He's the one that allegedly laid the foundation for LeBron and Bosh to join the team at the 2008 Olympics. That foundation allowed him to endure two seasons of Jermaine O'Neal playing on "mechanical legs" as my wife called them.

Wade could've easily said, "Fuck it," and extended his contract for max money in the summer of 2009 and told Riley he wanted to win right away or be traded just like Kobe did in 2007 after suffering three seasons without Shaq. But he didn't.

He endured and sacrificed to create his own brand of chaos.

Sacrifice: Kobe < Wade
Kobe on the other hand, didn't sacrifice. He was drafted 1 year after a new CBA with the rookie scale contract was implemented, caps on max salaries were added 3 years later, so he would never be paid more than Shaq. So the Lakers got rid of Shaq.

Kobe made his 2007 trade demand in response to a story that said he demanded the Lakers get rid of Shaq. He said the only way he'd stay is if the Lakers fired the source for the story because it wasn't true.

Even if Kobe didn't get rid of Shaq, he didn't sacrifice any money after he left, either. Shaq, on the other hand, took a salary cut with the HEAT to win the 2006 championship (see the video of his interview with Pat Riley after Game 5 of the 2012 Finals). That's one reason why Udonis Haslem was able to re-sign and make more money than Wade in 2006.

Quick tangent: What does it say about UD that 4 all-stars sacrificed money at different points in their careers so he could be on their teams?

RECAP: Kobe could never make more money than Shaq, feuds with Shaq, Lakers trade Shaq, Kobe demands trade because he can't win without Shaq.

Here's where Kobe's salary ranked on the Lakers since Shaq left:

The same summer Kobe demanded to be traded, his beefs with Phil Jackson left such a bad taste in Kevin Garnett mouth that he chose to be traded and extend his contract with the Celtics instead of the Lakers (see this HEATCheck). KG lives in Malibu, CA in the off-season so of course the Lakers were originally his 1st choice.

Here's the kicker: KG would've been the highest paid player on the Lakers in 2008 by $4,259,375.

The Lakers got Pau Gasol as a consolation prize and lost the 2008 Finals to KG and the Celtics. They won the 2009 and 2010 Finals while KG struggled with knee problems. Pau disappeared in the 2011 and 2012 playoffs and the Lakers lost playoff series in 4 and 5 games, respectively.

Four years after Kobe drove KG off to Boston, a similar scenario played out with Dwight Howard. Howard took the Lakers off his list of preferred destinations after Kobe told Dwight that he'd have to be the third option on offense and take a backseat to himself and Pau.

And now the Los Angeles Times is publishing stories that say Kobe is the problem while Wade celebrates his 2nd championship.

As for Kobe's 5 rings? LeBron said, "Not 5, not 6, not 7..."

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