One of the most iconic video games ever is Super Mario 64, a game that launched one of the highest paid athletes in North America. This week’s list goes back to 1997 and looks at who was turning heads then for their skills on Nintendo 64.
The “highest-paid athletes 1998” is a list of the highest paid players in the 1997. The list includes many famous names, such as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
We must remember that, as much as we adore the NBA, it is a business. It’s all fun and games when you’re a fan. We congratulate and criticize our teammates for their performance on the court. What many fans don’t realize is that their name has a monetary value tied to it. We have a wage tied to our output, just like the rest of us. Professional basketball players are no exception.
It’s something we see all the time. There are certain contracts in the league that aren’t worth the money. Those are what we refer to as poor business judgments. It wasn’t much different in the 1990s. Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O’Neal, among the top players in the late 1990s, were paid like stars. Others were paid like celebrities but failed to live up to the expectations.
The top ten highest-paid wages for the 1997-1998 season are shown below.
Dikembe Mutombo (10th) – $9,615,187
Mutombo had the most overall blocks in the league and was second in blocks per game with 3.4. With a 53.7 percent average and a total shooting percentage of 16th in the league, he was sixth in the league. He accomplished his job as an attacking center, but he was perhaps the greatest on defense.
Mutombo averaged 13.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game this season. His pay would have been almost $16.2 million if he had participated in today’s game. As a reference, Clint Capela earned nearly $1 million more this season.
Gary Payton, No. 9 – $10,514,688
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Payton finished sixth in assists and nearly cracked the top-20 in scoring with 19.2 points. Payton was in the top 15 in the league in field goals made and attempted, but his most notable accomplishment this season was ranking fourth in the league in steals with 2.3. Overall, Payton was noted for his defense, which earned him a spot on the First-Team All-Defensive Team.
In today’s game, Payton was a different kind of Chris Paul. It’s up to you to decide who was the superior player, but Payton’s compensation now would be almost $17.8 million. Given that Paul now earns almost twice as much, the SuperSonics got a good deal.
Hakeem Olajuwon ($11,156,000) is ranked eighth.
Olajuwon struggled with injuries this season, appearing in just 47 games. When Olajuwon was on the court, he averaged 16.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game. Olajuwon’s production would have cost about $18.9 million today, therefore the play may not have met the contract’s requirements.
With that stated, Olajuwon had earned the right to be paid this amount. Olajuwon had guided the Rockets to the NBA Finals in both 1994 and 1995, winning Finals MVP both years. The Rockets had to look after their superstar after winning two titles.
Juwan Howard ($11,250,000) is number seven on the list.
Howard’s compensation now would be roughly $19 million, which is a difficult pill to take when you consider his career averages. Howard had an 18.5-point, 7.0-rebound, 3.2-assist, 1.3-steal, and 0.4-block per-game average. While they are respectable results for a regular starter, they are unlikely to demand a wage comparable to a top-10 player.
This season, Howard did not finish in the top 20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks. When you pay superstar money for superstar work, you expect superstar results. This season, that was not the case for the Washington Wizards.
Alonzo Mourning has a net worth of $11,254,800.
Image courtesy of Getty Images
One of the strongest overall defenders on the court belonged to the Miami Heat. With 2.2 blocks per game, Mourning cracked the top-10 for blocks per game, while also breaking the top-20 for overall blocks. On the offensive end, Mourning was third in the league with a 55.1 percent field goal percentage and fourth in the league with a two-point field goal percentage. He was fifth in the league in terms of true shooting percentage.
Mourning’s deal was worth slightly over $19 million in today’s money. Given Mourning’s dominance on both sides of the court, the Heat have a good chance to win this season. Dwight Howard is a good analogy for this show, and he was just as valuable to the Magic when he was at his peak.
David Robinson has a net worth of $12,397,440.
In today’s game, Robinson would be one of five players worth more than $20 million, and he earned every cent while playing for the San Antonio Spurs this season. Robinson had a 21.6 point, 10.6 rebound, 2.7 assist, and 2.6 block per game average. He participated in 73 games and shot 51.1 percent from the field.
Robinson surpassed the top-15 in both total points and scoring averages. His rebounding and blocks averages both were in the top five. Robinson had the best win share per 48 minutes and defensive rating in the league. Robinson was a top player on both sides of the ball.
Shaquille O’Neal is ranked fourth with a net worth of $12,857,143.
Credit: Getty Images/Jed Jacobsohn
Another high-priced center in the league was well worth the investment. This season, O’Neal was outstanding for the Lakers. Today, O’Neal’s net worth would be at $21.7 million. O’Neal came close to winning the scoring race. He finished second in the league with 28.3 points, barely 0.4 points behind the winner. On offense, O’Neal was so effective that he led the league in field goal percentage, shooting 58.4% from the field. O’Neal was in the top ten for blocks on defense.
Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, who makes approximately $40 million, put up statistics like this in today’s NBA. O’Neal has joked that he was born in the wrong decade. Given the monetary value of these figures at the time, he could have a point.
Horace Grant is ranked third with a total of $14,285,714 dollars.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images is required credit.
The Magic had a difficult season. To begin with, the club paid the third-highest amount for a player who did not make an All-Star squad. The score was again 41-41 for the squad. Grant had a 12.1 point, 8.1 rebound, and 1.0 block per game average. He was paid more than O’Neal and Robinson, both of whom had All-Star seasons, and Grant’s deal would have been worth $24.2 million.
We see bad contracts all the time, but this one had to sting, particularly because O’Neal was once a key member of the Magic. When the club reached the NBA Finals in 1995, Grant was a good player, but this season was not one of his greatest in terms of money.
Patrick Ewing is ranked second with a net worth of $20,500,000.
It should come as no surprise that New York would try to make Ewing look like a superstar. This season, Ewing was one of just two players to earn more than $20 million. This deal would have been worth about $34.7 million in today’s league. The Knicks concluded the season with a 43-39 record and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Part of it was probably due to Ewing only appearing in 26 games during the regular season.
Ewing averaged 20.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks in those games. However, it is a significant sum of money for someone who is unable to maintain their health. However, for the next season, the investment was well worth it. Because you aren’t always going to get top productivity for top cash, it’s a question of selecting your poison. The Knicks reached the NBA Finals in 1999, so it’s a matter of picking your poison.
Michael Jordan is number one with a net worth of $33,140,000.
Jordan wanted to be compensated as the league’s top player. The Chicago Bulls had the most productive players. Jordan earned the league MVP award and led the Bulls to the NBA Finals for the third consecutive season, where he was named MVP. Jordan dominated the league in scoring, scoring nearly 200 points more than runner-up Karl Malone, making the most two-point field goals and total field goals, and shooting 33.7 percent, the highest in the league.
The Chicago Bulls went out of their way to make His Airness the highest-paid player in the league not just that season, but in NBA history, even going over and above the pay cap to make the then-five-time champion the highest-paid player in the league.
According to Yahoo Sports:
The NBA salary cap in 1997-98 was around $27 million dollars. Except for Michael Jordan, who earned well over $33 million, no Bulls player earned more than $5 million that season.
After a 1995-96 season in which he earned $3.8 million in the last year of a long-term contract, Jordan became a free agent. In 1996-97, when the salary ceiling was $24.3 million, Jordan signed a one-year deal for $30.1 million. In 1997-98, Jordan signed a one-year contract for $33.1 million while the salary cap was $26.9 million.
Jordan’s $33.1 million contract was more than the average club salary at the time, and it remained the biggest single-season compensation in NBA history until LeBron James and Stephen Curry both exceeded it in 2017-18.
The Bulls had the highest salary in the NBA in 1997-98, with $61.3 million, $7.4 million more than the second-placed Knicks.
It was also $32.8 million higher than the salary of the Utah Jazz, the Bulls’ eventual NBA Finals opponent in 1998.
Jordan’s deal would have cost $56.1 million if he had signed it. Given that the backend of Giannis and Steph Curry’s contracts total about that amount of money, you’d have to believe the Bulls struck a good bargain. All three players are iconic figures from their respective periods. Jordan could have made a lot of money in today’s NBA if he had played now.
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Michael Jordan was the highest paid player in the 1997. He made $30 million dollars a year. Reference: michael jordan salary by year.
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