Well into the twilight of his career, Kobe Bryant isn't going to hold his tongue on pressing matters that face the NBA, especially players' salaries.
When the NBA announced its landmark nine-year television contract with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting worth a reported $24 billion last week, "The Black Mamba" didn't hesitate to strike with a venomous tweet.
"Players are 'encouraged' per new CBA to take less to win or risk being called selfish+ungrateful while nbatv deal goes UP by a BILLION #biz," Bryant tweeted last Tuesday.
A week later and Bryant chose to delve deeper into the subject with ESPN, stating his beliefs that the public always points out that the NBA's players are overpaid, but frequently ignores that owners are too.
"It's very easy to look at the elite players around the league and talk about the amount of money that they get paid and compare that with the average [player]," Bryant said. "But we don't look at what the owners get paid and how much revenue they generate off the backs of these players.
"I think as players, you've kind of got to hold your ground a little bit and not be afraid of what the public perception is," Bryant added later in reference to players negotiating the league's new collective bargaining agreement, which is supposed to take effect during the summer of 2017. "Instead, you try to educate the public a little bit and understand it's not about complaining about how much you're making, because that's ridiculous. We are overpaid, but so are the owners. And you have to fight for what your market value is."
Bryant also called himself "the luckiest player in the league" because he's part of a Los Angeles Lakers organization that takes care of and rewards their players. Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, is the league's highest-paid player, scheduled to earn $23.5 million this season and $25 million next year as part of his two-year, $48.5 million extension signed last November.
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(Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)