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LARRY BIRDS

JUST IN: Pacers Indiana confirmed all time Celtics star is the best Team consultant Larry Birds things

Charles Barkley recently shared his perspective on how Magic Johnson and Larry Bird played pivotal roles in transforming the NBA during their era. Speaking on the ‘Club Shay Shay’ podcast, Barkley emphasized the profound impact of these two legendary players on the league’s trajectory.

“The two most important figures in NBA history are Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. If it wasn’t for those two guys and Race had something to do with that. It drew a line, but it’s still the best thing ever happened to the NBA.” 

“The average salary then was $200,000. When Magic and Bird came in, first of all it was too black, too thuggish, too drug infest and we were tape delayed… You got one game a week on Sunday. 

“The finals were tap delayed and there was only one game on Sunday and the average salary was $200,000. The average salary now is $10 million… I think three or four making $60 million a year. In the next five years we’re going to have guys making 70,80,90.” 

“I remember vividly… it broke that Magic Johnson had been the first NBA player to make a million dollars we were walking around high-fiving each other we could not believe we could not believe that an NBA player made a million dollars.” 

Barkley asserted that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird are arguably the two most significant figures in NBA history. He highlighted how their arrival in the league marked a crucial turning point, particularly in addressing racial dynamics and reshaping the NBA’s image.

According to Barkley, the NBA faced significant challenges before the emergence of Magic and Bird. He described the league as being perceived as “too black, too thuggish, too drug-infested,” with games even being tape-delayed and limited to just one televised game per week, typically on Sundays. Additionally, the average player’s salary at that time was a mere $200,000.

However, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s impact went beyond the court. Their rivalry and subsequent partnership in revitalizing the NBA garnered widespread attention and significantly increased the league’s popularity. As a result, the NBA experienced exponential growth in terms of viewership, revenue, and player salaries.

Barkley recalled the astonishment among players when Magic Johnson became the first NBA player to earn a million-dollar salary. This milestone symbolized a seismic shift in the financial landscape of the league and signaled the beginning of a new era of prosperity for NBA players.

Today, NBA players enjoy lucrative contracts, with salaries reaching unprecedented heights, with the average salary at over $10 million. Barkley predicts that the trend of escalating salaries will continue, with some players expected to earn upwards of $70 to $90 million per year in the near future.

The evolution of NBA contracts over the decades provides a fascinating glimpse into the changing landscape of professional basketball. From the modest $25,000 per year contract of Bob Cousy in the 1950s to the staggering $65.6 million deal signed by Jaylen Brown in the 2020s, these contracts serve as powerful symbols of how the league has transformed over time.

There were some pioneering players who were the first to achieve notable pay milestones, from earning $15,000 to an astounding $60,000,000 in a single season.

In essence, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird’s impact transcended basketball. Their contributions not only transformed the NBA into a global phenomenon but also paved the way for future generations of players to thrive both on and off the court.

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