Heat star: Salary not a concern
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — LeBron James has been an NBA champion once, an Olympic gold medalist twice and the league’s MVP three times.
The Miami Heat star says there’s one title he’s not worried about holding — NBA’s biggest salary.
“It doesn’t matter to me being the highest-paid player in the league,” James said. “I think my value shows on the floor.”
He added: “If this was baseball, it (the salary) would be up, I mean way up there.”
James spoke following the team’s afternoon shootaround in Indianapolis leading to Friday night’s Heat-Pacers game.
Initially, the questions were about whether the league’s new collective bargaining agreement would allow other teams to build the same way Miami did, by signing three big-name players.
James was the top prize on the free-agent market in 2010 but acknowledged he took less money to play with Miami and pursue NBA championships with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. James and Bosh each reportedly signed six-year deals worth $110 million. Wade’s deal was for six years and $107 million. Each deal was under the NBA’s maximum contract.
The Heat won the title last season, and all three Miami stars can opt out of their contracts next year. There has been speculation that the Cavaliers, James’ former team, might be interested in signing him, as would the Los Angeles Lakers.
So when James was asked whether it was right that the league’s reigning MVP was not its highest-paid player, he just smiled. He later said money will not dictate his plans.
“I’ve not had a max contract yet, it’s a story that’s been untold,” he said. “I don’t get (credit) for it. But that doesn’t matter to me. Playing the game matters to me.”
Few players, even those earning more money, have a stronger resume than James.
He was the youngest player in league history to be chosen the NBA’s rookie of the year, the youngest to be the All-Star Game MVP and in January became the youngest player to top 20,000 points.
At 28, James is nowhere close to slowing down, either.
Last year, James won his third MVP award, his first NBA title, was a unanimous choice as NBA Finals MVP and earned his second Olympic gold medal.
So the money thing seems to pale in comparison, especially given that James has been able to supplement his income off the court.
“It’s not all about money. It’s about winning. I know that and I don’t mind,” James said. “It doesn’t bother me because I’m OK, I’m financially stable and my family is OK.”
And Miami is taking Friday night’s game seriously.
When the Heat rolled into town last month, the Pacers held Miami to a season-low 77 points.
This time, they expect to produce a different result.
“We watched the film this morning and it was eye-opening,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, comparing the game to Sunday’s Super Bowl. “We know what it’s all about. We have to have our knee pads on and our mouth guards in.”
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