EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A week after posting his thoughts on the NBA's new television contract on Twitter, Kobe Bryant expounded on the subject Tuesday after the Los Angeles Lakers' practice, going so far as to say that players "are overpaid, but so are the owners. And you have to fight for what your market value is."
"Listen, business is business," Bryant said. "I think people get that confused very easily in understanding that players should take substantially less than their market value in order to win championships."
Last week, after the NBA announced its record-breaking nine-year television contract with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting worth a reported $24 billion, Bryant fired off a tweet on the matter.
Bryant signed a two-year extension worth a reported $48.5 million with the Lakers in 2013. According to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, Bryant will maintain his status as the NBA's highest-paid player over the course of the extension, making $23.5 million in the first year and $25 million in the second.
"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."
According to ESPN.com's Larry Coon, who cited league sources, the current TV network deal will provide $1.03 billion in league revenue in 2015-16, and that figure will increase by about $1.1 billion in 2016-17 when the new deal kicks in.
Moreover, the new deal will provide an average of $2.66 billion per year to the NBA, nearly tripling what the current deal paid (nearly $940 million per season).
"And now," Bryant continued, "you have a TV deal that comes out and you look at it almost being up a billion dollars [more] than the previous one, and this is coming off the back of a lockout [in 2011] in which the [salary] cap -- it's not a hard cap, but it's pretty close to being a hard cap.
"It'll be interesting to see what happens in this next labor agreement, because my understanding is this TV deal kicks in in the last year of this current agreement. So I'm sure they'll try to lock us out again [in 2017] and harden the cap even more."
New collective bargaining is expected to occur in the summer of 2017.
"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 said. "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."
When asked what his recent extension means given the financial reality, Bryant said: "I'm the luckiest basketball player in the league, because I got very fortunate to be with an organization that takes care of its players, rewards its players and has a long history of doing that."
He added: "I think it speaks volumes, not only to me and to this city but to other players around this league as well. You look around at some of the other owners that try to milk their players or get rid of them or discard them, this organization doesn't do that."
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