Kobe Bryant, before speaking with his tax professional. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Sure, Kobe Bryant's still on the shelf as he works his way back from surgery to repair the torn left Achilles tendon he suffered late last season. The beauty of having a guaranteed contract, though, is that you can get paid even if you can't work ... and the Black Mamba's about to get paaaaaaaaaaaid by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Most players in the NBA receive their salary throughout the year — but then Kobe Bryant is not a typical NBA player.
Negotiated as part of his specific contract, Bryant receives a balloon payment on Nov. 1. On Friday, the All-Star guard will receive $24,363,044 from the Lakers.
Bryant's salary for the entire season is $30,453,805 — the remaining $6.1 million will be paid out over the course of the year.
While there's a limit to how much a player can receive in advance, Bryant is right at that 80% maximum.
The limit to which Pincus refers is part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Player's Association, as covered by the great Larry Coon in his NBA Salary Cap FAQ. This, of course, is one reason it's nice to have a single-season base salary of more than $30 million.
Bryant's total take home of that $24.3 million check, however, is subject to heavy taxes, which could total as much as 55 percent of his salary. That would reduce his take-home pay to closer to $11 million, according to Robert Raiola, a certified public accountant who heads up the sports and entertainment group at FMRTL in Cranford, N.J.
In his tax bracket, Bryant is subject to paying a federal tax at the top rate of 39.6 percent, which would mean $9.6 million will be withheld and given to Uncle Sam. As a California resident, he's subject to paying an additional 13.3 percent, or $3.2 million, in state taxes. California has the highest state income tax in the United States. The Medicare tax and surcharge would reduce his total take to about $10.9 million, Raiola said.
Bryant will pay so-called "jock taxes" to states in which he plays on the road. But those payments will be credited toward his California income tax.
(For more on the "jock taxes," check out this piece by Grantland's Zach Lowe.)
It's hard to envision feeling grumpy on a day when you make $11 million, but if Raiola's math is right, I think I could understand Bean being a bit of a sourpuss this Friday.
If it makes you feel any better, Kobe, I think I speak for
everyone at least a portion of our divided nation when I say: Thanks for helping build and maintain our country's infrastructure, Mr. Bryant. I appreciate your contribution to fixing potholes, I hope that you enjoyed being Zorro for Halloween, and I wish you luck in getting well enough to resume doing what you're paid so handsomely to do so well.
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- Kobe Bryant
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