With his shiny new extension, Kobe Bryant has joined elite financial company. With the maximum value three-year contract extension Bryant signed with the Lakers Friday, Kobe is slated to earn a cool $31.5 million in the 2013-14 season. The only other player to earn at least $30 million in NBA salary in a single season is Michael Jordan, who did it twice, in 1997 and 1998, his final seasons as a Chicago Bull. In 1997, Jordan made $30.1 million. In 1998, he earned $33.1 million.

Bryant is scheduled to earn $26 million in 2011-12, $28.7 million in 2012-13 and $31.5 million in 2013-2014.

For his career, Bryant has already eclipsed Jordan's total NBA salary. Those two $30-million seasons were Jordan's only campaigns in which he was paid an NBA salary greater than $4 million. Bryant made $9 million as a 21-year-old in his fourth NBA season. Including this season, Kobe has earned more than $170 million in NBA salary. Once the newly inked extension ends, Bryant will have been paid $280 million by the Lakers.

The extension also settles a score of sorts for Kobe. To date, former teammate and rival Shaquille O'Neal had been No. 2 on the NBA's all-time list for highest salary in a single season, behind Jordan. Shaq earned $27.7 million in 2004-05. That was the final season of a contract the Lakers signed O'Neal to in 1996. Bryant has two seasons on this extension over Shaq's peak salary.

These figures and this unofficial contest remain inexact, as 8-9 percent of player salary is currently held in escrow due to stipulations of the current collective bargaining agreement. Last season, because player salary exceeded a certain percentage of league revenue, players did not get those escrow funds back. They will not see that money this season, either.
Kobe Bryant's contract extension completes greatest turnaround jump of his career
Almost gone in 2004, and again in 2007, Bryant is now looking like a Laker for life, right there with Jerry West and Magic Johnson............
July 15, 2004, the day Bryant returned to the Lakers, was also the day he learned, to his amazement, that people were saying he had run off O'Neal.

That possibility had never occurred to Kobe, who a) thought he was leaving, and b) had been told by Buss months before that he wasn't bringing Shaq back.

Of course, Bryant couldn't imagine a lot of things that were about to happen, like the team's drop to 34-48 that season under Rudy Tomjanovich.

With Jackson back the following season — another surprise for Bryant, who wasn't as close to Phil as he is now — they got back to the playoffs but were eliminated in the first round two seasons running.

Kobe with back to back championships and three consecutive conference championships and the number one selling jersey back to back years has earned whatever money he tops out at when his storied hall of fame career is over and done with. He truly has nothing else to prove in the eyes of true Laker fans and true fans of the game itself
he has damn near done it all and in grand fashion.

Love him or hate him, he is the best in the NBA until someone officially supplants him and takes the thrown as the single best player in the world of basketball. (THA CHILL ONE)


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