Among the more fun places to kill time on the Internet is The Vault at SI.com.
Dr. Buss had a clear — and accurate — vision of the future.
Last week, on Grantland.com I came across a great feature from July of 1981, profiling the free agency of a certain hard-nosed former North Carolina forward named Mitch Kupchak who had signed an offer sheet from the Los Angeles Lakers worth “between $700,000 and $850,000 per year over an estimated seven-year period.”
At the time, NBA free agency was built around the right of first refusal. The Washington Bullets did just that, paving Kupchak's road to purple and gold, one he's still on.
The article (click here to read the whole thing) is interesting on a few levels, starting as a window into Kupchak-the-player and the world of NBA free agency 30 years ago. But for Lakers fans, the best parts detail the vision of Dr. Buss, his views on economics, and the way the league ought to be run.
Here, he talks about the economics behind giving Magic Johnson a then-unheard of 25 year, $25 million contract, one viewed by many at the time as absurd, but quickly proved a stroke of genius when it was clear Johnson would soon be grossly underpaid.
“Kupchak's numbers are just a fraction of the figures that Buss threw at Johnson, who had approached Buss early last season and asked if anything could be done to ensure his being a Laker forever. The result was a contract that surpasses the one previously considered the richest in sports, Dave Winfield's 10-year, $22 million deal with the Yankees.
To pay Johnson, alcohol withdrawal
platelet rich plasma
wireless tv speakers
bluetooth wireless speakers
lower back pain relief
a 6'9″ guard, his cool million a year, Buss purchased for $5 million the trust deed to what is presumably a piece of real estate in an unspecified location (“To tell where would only lead to someone desecrating it to get some attention. There are a lot of crazy people out there,” Buss says). The interest from the 20% mortgage comes to a million dollars a year for Buss—or Magic.
Last week Buss tried to justify Johnson's contract while relaxing at Pickfair, beneath a portrait of Mary Pickford, who seemed to beam approvingly. Pickford and her second husband, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., were the original owners of the isolated Beverly Hills mansion Buss purchased in 1980 for $5.4 million. “What we tried to do was find what would be a fair salary for a free agent in 1984,” he said. “We figured that would be $700,000, but inflation until then will be a minimum of six to seven percent. Over the 12 years of the basketball portion of the contract, then, that figure would double to $1.4 million a year, so we just averaged it off to a million a year.
“Past that, you have to look at Magic's front-office capabilities. Right now a good coach or general manager, withMagic's P.R. value, averages $200,000 a year. That doubles during his playing career, and in another 15 years, with inflation, that same coach would be making $800,000.”
Buss believes that in 25 years the average secretary will be making $60,000 a year, but adds, “It won't mean anything. You'll also be paying $5 for a gallon of gas and $35,000 for a car. That's if inflation goes the way I say it will. I'm gambling, but if it does, then I've got the edge.”
Smart guy, eh?