Blog Entry

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

Posted on: August 20, 2011 12:05 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver. nba-lockout

Nobody likes math anymore but this is kind of important.

There are a bunch of ways to measure data in a group. If you're looking for a simple average, that's called the mean. Add up everyone's values and divide by the number of people. Easy. If you're looking for the middle, though, that's called the median. Line everyone up in order from smallest to largest and stop when you get exactly to the halfway point.

What's the difference? Mean is used far more often because it's very easy to calculate and understand. But median more accurately reflects the middle value in sets of numbers that have extreme values on one end of another that might skew things.

Knowing both numbers is always better than knowing either one or the other, and that holds true when it comes to NBA salaries. smartly investigates this issue because the average player salary -- $5.15 million -- has come up over and over in comments concerning the NBA lockout. That's a lot of money for anyone to make! 

Of course, we all know that that figure is inflated by the vastly superior sums made by superstars (or players paid to perform like superstars). If we're talking about an "average" NBA player in terms of skill, we all probably assume he's making less than that $5 million figure. crunched the numbers to confirm that suspicion. 
In the NBA, using USA Today salary figures for the 2009-10 season, the estimated median salary was about $2.33 million. That's still about 46 times what the median U.S. household earns, but it is less than half what the max-salary-bloated "average" is.
As you might expect, the owners and players have reasons to prefer opposite measurements. The players side might prefer the median salary because it reflects what the middle class is taking home; the owners prefer the mean salary because it better reflects their overall costs.
"It's the median salary that's more important," NBA agent Bill Duffy said. "Look at the Miami Heat as an analogy here: You've got three guys making $17 million and probably six guys making $1.2 [million]. So that's a little misguided, that average salary."

"We use [average] because it's the most commonly used measure and best reflects the amount of compensation that the NBA provides to players across the league," an NBA spokesman said this week. "In addition, it's the measure that both we and the union agreed upon in the CBA."
In truth, no statistical measure is really "more important" in accurately assessing the financial landscape of NBA salaries. Surely both numbers are useful and readily available to the lawyers and accountants who will eventually hammer out the details of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Knowing both is significantly better than knowing just one. Knowing both numbers, as we do now, helps protect us from the misinformation or incomplete information that statistics can be lured into presenting by those with an agenda on either side. So now you know. The "average" NBA player is extraordinarily rich, but less than half as rich as the NBA has led you -- intentionally or not -- to believe up to this point. And he has his super-rich superstar teammates to blame for that too.
Category: NBA

Since: Jul 31, 2011
Posted on: August 22, 2011 11:45 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

This lockout has little to do with the players and more to do with the owners sentimental reaction of losing revenue. This is attributed by the NBA’s decision to mirror big businesses harmful profit schemes championed by Commissioner Stern and his associates. Otherwise the NBA wouldn’t be in the financial disposition that it’s in. As such you have a commissioner ignoring players concerns by giving full control to corrupt referees who openly admit to betting on games, making wrong calls, and saying they don’t care. This behavior is a way to control the players and the points without the proper oversight. That’s why commissioner Sterns actions have violated the leagues rules and guidelines. This type of behavior is disgraceful and unethical. It’s a spit in the face to players, fans and the leagues image. That’s why I’m asking NBA fans to stand behind the calling for Commissioner Sterns resignation. Because it’s fans who built the NBA’s empire and it’s fans who can change it.

Since: Aug 22, 2011
Posted on: August 22, 2011 3:35 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

Geeze this sounds like obam trying to use numbers to make him look good. the fact is the median means nothing, when the average wage is $5.4M a year.. dont make it look like these overpaid thugs are worth any more, they should be all under 500,000 a year.. the league got greedy and they drug the thugs along

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: August 22, 2011 12:24 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

I have said it before and I'll say it again. The top stars should make no more than 10-12 million per year and salaries should then fall into place using that as the top of the scale. Part of that money should be based on performance: maybe 8 million guaranteed then the rest based on staying healthy, winning some games, reaching some goals. Guys like Arenas making 20 million per year handcuffs their team.

Then owners should pass the savings onto the fans. It should not cost so much that a working class family of four can't ever take in a game.

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: August 21, 2011 12:42 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

A median of 2.33 million just shows how overpaid the elite are in this league. So they pay a few stars 20 million per year. This makes the "average look pretty high 5.15 million. But half of players make 2.33 million or less. Just like the rest of the world- the rich get richer- much richer.

The 2.33 million is a bit deceptive because you have all these older players at the minimum when actually they already got 5 or 10 million from teams that bought them out- like Peja and the Raptors. Peja may ONLY on paper be making 1.2 million this year but he actually made about 8 million.

Shuffle the deck any way you want. The players are too rich and the owners are billionaires. The fans and those getting laid off by the teams are the victims here.

Since: May 7, 2009
Posted on: August 21, 2011 12:44 am

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

How much more money do they need to make??? If they are good they make enough thru an 8 to 10 year career to live the rest of there life comfortably, at least i would hope. The ones that do not make it long enough hopefully have some sort of college education to fall back on for that time where they will have to go out and get a real job. I mean, these guys play a game they love to play and get paid handsomely for it. Yes they make the owners money and the league money, but the league and the owners (and the tv networks) give the players the ability to get the exposure. The endorsment contracts and all the other fringe benefits for what they do all come from the same exposure. If you do not have the owners, or league, or tv networks what would Kobe, and Dwayne, and Lebron, etc, etc. They would have the European leagues where they would be the greatest players and make plenty of money (albeit far less than what they make in the formally greatest country in the world) but would not be the iconic figures that they are here. These guys make plenty!!!

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: August 21, 2011 12:36 am

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

The average,
inflated by the vastly superior sums made by superstars
is no less valid because those vastly superior sums were also negotiated by the players union. It makes no sense to pretend that they do not exist. For every extra dollar that a superstar makes requires a counterbalancing reduction of a dollar in another player's salary. The Union cannot have it both ways. In showing us the average the NBA is showing us the problem. Does that average raise by $2M over six years or does it decline by $0.15M and stabilize over six years? Since the owners are losing over $300M per year there is no possibility of the former.

The players what to talk about the players taking away their money. But with no contract it is not their money, it is the owners money - all of it. The players can choose not to play as they have now by refusing to discuss the hard cap or the stable salary share @ $2B or they can choose to negotiate around that figure to establish an environment where an owner has the opportunity to get a return of his or her investment ($356M average per team.) Without an opportunity for a return the capital is wasted and the business model fails.

So using average is accurate and using mean only confuses the issue. Does anyone think that a player getting $2.33M per year should be pitied? Shades of Latrell Spreewell. The players are experiencing the reality of the NBA while looking at offerings from overseas teams. Most signing now are getting under $200k and the clubs there are notorious for not paying all that they owe. These players fit into the USA well by demanding an entitlement to 'their' money. By this time next year will they, instead, be moaning about the bank taking away 'their' house?

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: August 20, 2011 7:03 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

Kobe, Wade, Dirk, Amare, should get a percentage of an owners revenue..The owners need to make money, but so do the superstars making the owners money...It's the bad contracts like Eddy Curry that ruin the whole system..

Since: Feb 3, 2008
Posted on: August 20, 2011 6:56 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

So what the hell is the problem? These ass clowns can't live on 2 and 1/2 mill a year? So pathetic.

Since: Jun 24, 2008
Posted on: August 20, 2011 6:48 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

Adonal Foyle played for the Magic for two years and made a million dollars in those two years and scored a total of two points meaning he averaged one point per 80 games.  He wasn't hurt either.  What a bargain!!  So, while we know there is a problem with the ridiculous amount of money being paid to the real stars there is also a problem on the lower end. 

Since: Mar 8, 2008
Posted on: August 20, 2011 6:39 pm

Report: NBA median salary is $2.33 million

I'd hate to compromise my life-style by settling for the meager $800K or $1M some of the lower paid guys make, but I'd do it (if I had the talent) just to say I did.  

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