Yes, Steph Curry is worth $40 million per year

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The annual cascade of cash has commenced in the NBA, where a JPP-sized handful of players (be safe this weekends, kids) will secure sufficiently large contracts to prompt plenty of fans, media members, and players who play different sports for far less money to complain that Curry isn’t worth it. He is. He definitely is.

He’s worth it because we’re all worth whatever someone will pay us, and/or whatever we can earn if self-employed. Curry’s five-year, $201 million “supermax” deal flows directly from the terms of the deal that the NBA willingly cut with its union, and in turn from the deal the Golden State Warriors willingly cut with Curry. That’s the way it works; the league and its teams earn billions, and the more of it that flows to the players, the better.

Not that it’s all flowing to the players. The Warriors will continue to operate at a staggering profit, with someone(s) at or near the top of the organization surely pocketing more than Curry’s $40 million per year. But we don’t know that, so we can’t complain.

Plenty of business people are making plenty more than Steph Curry. We don’t know who they are, we don’t see them on TV, we can’t relate to them in any way, so we can’t resent them as easily as we can resent someone like Curry or any other high-profile athlete.

In football, the dollars for specific players are lower for several key reasons. First, the NFL has much larger rosters. Second, the NFL has a much shorter season. Third, the unique skills possessed by the best of the best basketball players are typically much more rare than the unique skills possessed by the best of the best football players. Plenty of really good football players would gladly play basketball instead; few really good basketball players would switch sports.

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The one thing they have in common is that, despite the disparity between basketball and football salaries, fans think they’re all overpaid.

It’s odd that people want to complain about the salaries of athletes, but that few ever gripe about how much money non-sports entertainers make. Plenty make a lot more than pro athletes (who essentially are entertainers, too), and few endure the same kind of physical pounding. Still, non-sports entertainers are worth it because that’s what someone will pay them, and typically the people responsible for paying other people know what they’re doing.

Even if they don’t, business owners have every right to screw up their business dealings, paying someone more than they should have or could have. And for every Albert Haynesworth or Ryan Leaf, there are hundreds if not thousands who have gotten screwed because they lacked the education, training, guile, or skilled representation to negotiate effectively with management.

So whenever someone manages to get millions from management, the people should be cheering, not complaining. Every big contract for everyone like Steph Curry is a victory for those who typically, and collectively, are that the mercy with those who truly hold the money and the power.