14 Athletes Who Have Taken Huge Pay Cuts

Wayne Gretzky Athlete Pay Cut

Kobe Bryant made headlines recently by laughing at a reporter’s suggestion that he take a pay cut following the $32 million he will make this season.

And why should he?

It is perplexing when athletes take pay cuts and ironic when fans get angry at the choice. Many fans long for idealised athletes who only care about winning. The theory goes that nothing brings money like winning.

The only thing fans leave out of that equation is they will only be happy when it is their athletes taking pay cuts to stay with their teams. 

As sports writer Dave Zirin is famous for noting, sports can turn the most ardent capitalists into socialists. 

LeBron James left $15 million on the table by signing with Miami.

So did Chris Bosh.

Tim Duncan cut his salary from $21 million to $10 million last offseason.

Dwyane Wade left $18 million on the table to bring the Big Three to Miami.

Jerome Bettis cut his salary by $3 million in 2005.

Joe Mauer left tens of millions of dollars on the table to stay with his hometown Minnesota Twins in 2010.

Mike Bibby forewent $6.2 million to join the Heat in 2011 at the league minimum.

Jered Weaver left ~$15 million on the table by giving the Angels a hometown discount.

Andrei Kirilenko took a $7 million pay cut to play for the Brooklyn Nets.

Japanese baseball star Michihiro Ogasawara took a $4.4 million cut (¥360 million) to stay with the Yomiuri Giants in 2012.

Udonis Haslem left $14 million on the table to stay in Miami in 2010.

Shaquille O'Neal took a $10 million pay cut to leave the Lakers for the Heat in 2005.

Wayne Gretzky took a $2.3 million pay cut in 1995.

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