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Yanked Into Controversial Money vs Championship Debate, Kobe Bryant’s 9YO Verdict Brought to Light

Published 09/24/2023, 8:50 AM EDT

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The debate between money and championships is one that has gone on for some time in sports. Not just the NBA, it is one prevalent in all major sports. However, with the constant influx of ‘superteams‘, the NBA is the biggest battleground for the discussion. Now, due to former NBA star Stephen Jackson’s comments, the debate is back in full force. Amidst this, NBA icon Kobe Bryant‘s take on the same has come to light, putting a new perspective on the argument.

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Nearly a decade before the debate became popular once more, Bean made his stance on the subject clear.

Kobe Bryant is all for maximum salaries


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Even though they share a unique record, both Kobe and Dirk Nowitzki took very different approaches to their final years. While the German would sign for pennies on the dollar to support the Dallas Mavericks, Bryant wasn’t as generous.

In an interview with ABC, the Mamba made his stance on the subject crystal clear. “It’s the popular thing to do…I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money. Because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it.” 


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Further, he was clear in the contrast between himself and Dirk’s contracts. “It’s absolutely brilliant, but I’m not going for it. I know the new head of the players’ association ain’t going for it, either.” That year, Dirk would sign a three-year, $25 million contract to help Dallas’ chances of improving the roster.

On the other hand, Kobe took a different route, signing a deal worth 2 years and $48.5 million while undergoing recovery from the infamous Achilles tear. While not the full max he could have made, the number comfortably made him the highest earner in the league.

While his logic of the sport being a “business” lines up perfectly with the Sacramento Kings star De’Aaron Fox, who invoked his name in the conversation, Stephen Jackson has a vastly different perspective.

Stax vs. Kobe Bryant, or Glory vs. Business

According to the former, the quest for a championship is paramount. Rather than focusing on the monetary side of things, an athlete needs to devote his career to winning a championship. He further had criticism for the current generation of players.


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“Talkin’ about ‘I’ll take a $100 million and f— the championship.’ Nah, I’ll take $50 million and that championship. But you not a winner. You don’t wanna be the best. You just wanna maintain and just go along,” Jackson said.

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However, this mentality lies in polar opposites of the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s mindset from 10 years ago. “You’ve got to look at the business of basketball…This is a business, and you have to look at individuals…As a player, be in situations where it can be a win-win for everybody.” 


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That is how he made the justification for his discount. To him, finding that balance was paramount, as according to him the players “are overpaid but so are the owners.” Hence, for the former MVP, there was no difference between the two sides. Perhaps the wisdom of Kobe’s words can shine some light on the matter and shift the perspective.

Where do you stand on the money vs. championship debate? Let us know in the comments below.

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Priyanshu Choudhary is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. Basketball has been his favorite sport for over a decade, and he has written close to 300 articles. If asked what he loves about the sport, Priyanshu would cite the technique, the breakdown, the ebb and flow and the theatrics that have endeared him since 2009.
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Pragya Vashisth