September 13, 2010
Unless you're a millionaire, it's probably hard to understand just how many dollars a million actually is. It's a million obviously, but imagine a million of anything. A million paper clips means you can hold so many papers together. A million bananas is way too many bananas. No one could hold a million hamsters, unless they're crazy. A million is a lot, and when you're making several million it's probably hard to keep track of just how much money is coming in on a yearly basis. Being an NBA player is hard.
Jermaine O'Neal(notes) has made more than $150 million in his career, so it totally makes sense that he'd be a little confused about how much money he was bringing in. That's a lot of money to plug in to Quicken, so when he confessed to the Boston Globe's Julian Benbow that he was a little surprised that he was making so much money it's very understandable.
"I didn't even realize until this summer that over the last seven years I was one of the top three paid players in the entire NBA,'' O'Neal said. "I never knew that.
Believe me, Jermaine O'Neal, we're with you in that we thought it was very shocking that you were the third highest paid player in the entire NBA last year. I mean, you were paid more than Tim Duncan(notes), Kevin Garnett(notes), LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes), Brad Miller(notes), Pau Gasol(notes) and every other player in the whole NBA not named Kobe Bryant(notes) or Tracy McGrady(notes) for the past few seasons. It was kind of weird, considering you were only playing three quarters of the game every season and not producing like a guy who was making more money than so many other players.
It's OK though, because Jermaine O'Neal not only now realizes that he was overpaid, he also realizes he wasn't earning his prodigious keep.
"I never looked at that money as being pressure. To be honest, towards the last two or three years, I felt like I wasn't doing enough to earn my money. I'm very critical of myself.''
Look, I've never been paid $20 million to play basketball for 82 games a year, but if I were I would probably consider that to be a pressure situation so that I could prove I was worth it. But maybe that's why I've never been offered that much money to shoot hoops. It's a real chicken-or-egg situation.
And to be honest, Jermaine O'Neal is totally right — he didn't earn that money for the past two or three years. But to be even more honest, looking at how many games O'Neal has missed since he signed a massive extension before the 2003-04 season, he probably hasn't earned that money since, well, the 2003-04 season. Since then he's missed an average of 25 games a year and has played 70 games in a season exactly once (last year) in those six years. That's not a good look for a guy making $13-23 million during a season.
On the other hand, Jermaine is only making about $6 million this coming season, which isn't terrible for a center who can still move, put up decent stats and will be able to fill in for Kendrick Perkins(notes) while he recovers from injury. $6 million for Jermaine O'Neal is probably worth it, and it'll definitely be easier for him to earn and keep track of. Everyone's a winner here. Well, except for the Pacers, Raptors and Heat who paid Jermaine O'Neal tons of money that he admits he didn't earn, but let's just forget about that for now.