“Like in a supermarket.” Dennis Rodman earned only $75,000 in his debut season in the NBA
September 15, 2023, 10:15 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
An amount incomparable to today.
Dennis Rodman is one of the best basketball players of the 90s era. A five-time champion who won the Best Defensive Player award twice and led the season in rebounds seven times. One can imagine how much a player with such a track record would earn in the modern NBA: tens of millions of dollars a year. And if you think Michael Jordan was underpaid, look at Dennis Rodman.
During his 14 seasons in the NBA, he earned a total of around $27 million. Taking into account current inflation, this amount would be approximately 50 to 55 million dollars. Dennis earned the most during the 1996/1997 championship – 9 million dollars (or $17 million in terms of current exchange rates).
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But then the forward already played in Chicago alongside Michael Jordan and established himself as one of the best rebounders and defenders in NBA history. Newly entered the league, of course, he couldn’t count on an amount even close to $9 million.
Rodman was selected in the second round of the 1986 draft, 27th overall. He was older than the average NBA rookie and hadn’t started college until four years after graduating high school. At the time of his debut in the NBA, Dennis was already 25 years old. In his first season with Detroit, he was a regular on the court, but averaged 15 minutes per game and was in the starting lineup just once.
And when in one of the interviews Rodman was asked how much he earned at the beginning of his career, he replied:
former NBA player
“My God! I was earning $80,000, like in a supermarket. That’s how the contract was. Between $75,000 and $80,000, no more. Today it’s $50 million, but back then it was $80,000. What the hell.”
According to Spotrac, Rodman’s salary in his rookie season was actually only $75,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s just over $200,000. By comparison, today, a second-round prospect can command $850,000 a year, and the 27th overall pick can command $1.6. 2.5 million.
That’s because the salaries of today’s first-round draft prospects depend on the salary cap, which in turn depends on the league’s overall revenue. There is a special scale in which the amount of each of the selected players is indicated under numbers from first to 30. In this case, the athlete can receive 80% or 120% of this amount per year.
Larry Bird and Dennis Rodman
Photo: Manny Millán/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images
When Rodman debuted in the NBA, nothing like this existed. This stopover first appeared only in the 1995/1996 season, which became the first in Chicago and the tenth in his career. Dennis was 34 years old.
Overall, the league is growing at an unimaginable rate and every year it conquers new heights financially. In a couple of years, a salary of $50 million per season won’t be out of the ordinary. And the more players earn now, the more implausible the salaries of past legends seem. Dennis Rodman is a great example of this.
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