Most of the time, athletes leave their teams to join another in exchange for more money. However, what if it were the other way around, with athletes staying with their team for less money? Does this sound incredible to you? Well, it has happened, and sometimes the reason is not just about staying on the team. Athletes sometimes take a pay cut to join a team, to let others join the team, or even to stop others from having to leave the team.
So who are the athletes who have agreed to take less for one reason or another, and how much did they lose?
9 Corey Hart – Unspecified
Coming off his knee surgery, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart said he was willing to take a “significant pay cut” just to sign up with the Brewers again. Hart, a two-time Major League Baseball All-Star, has been with the Brewers since 2004. He became the first Brewer since 2003 to steal 20 bases and hit 20 home runs in a single season, and also holds the Brewer’s record for the fastest 60-yard dash.
"I've told them I would be very generous to stay here," Hart was quoted as saying, "I wouldn't sit there and ask for anything that is outlandish. I would take a discount to stay here, because I think I owe it to them to stay here and be a cheaper player, because nobody wants to play for free but I've basically sat there and watched all season. I think I owe it to them and the fans to come back. That's kind of what we're hoping for, but at the same time, you don't know what's going to happen."
He had a $10 million salary this year at the end of a three-year extension.
8 Joseph “Joe” Patrick Mauer – Unspecified
This catcher for the Minnesota Twins left tens of millions of dollars on the table to stay with his hometown team in 2010. Joe Mauer agreed to an eight-year contract extension with the Twins that was worth $184 million, which took effect in the 2011 season and would run through the 2018 season. Despite his loss, his contract remains the richest in the history of Major League Baseball for a catcher.
Mauer is the only catcher in the history of Major League Baseball to have won three batting titles. He also won three consecutive Gold Glove awards (2008–2010), and the 2009 American League Most Valuable Player Award.
7 Jerome Bettis – $3 Million
Running back Jerome Bettis was thinking of retiring after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost in the AFC championship game in 2004. However, he later agreed to another pay cut so that he can play for at least one more season, even at the loss of $3 million, just so the team management could make the salary cap.
Bettis would have made $4,484,000 but amazingly, he agreed to play for about $1.5 million.
It was his second such arrangement. Around a year earlier he also agreed to cut his salary by $2.7 million to remain in Pittsburgh as a backup after team management signed up running back Duce Staley.
6 Michihiro Ogasawara – $4.4 Million
Baseball is big in Japan. How big? Big enough they pay their players millions. However, the millions were apparently not enough for Japanese baseball star Michihiro Ogasawara who took a $4.4 million cutjust to stay with his team, the Yomiuri Giants, in 2012.
Regarded as one of the most consistent hitters in Japanese baseball, Ogasawara first played with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 1997. In his last year with them in 2006, he helped them win their first Pacific League pennant since 1981 against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The Fighters would later win the Japanese championship series against the Chunichi Dragons.
5 Mike Bibby – $6.2 Million
Point guard Mike Bibby still had $6.2 million left to collect from the Washington Wizards if he finished 2011 with them as stipulated in his contract, but he didn’t care anymore. He wanted to sign up with the Miami Heat immediately, even if it meant signing a league minimum contract with the team.
His decision has shocked many, but he was adamant in his choice.
"I make the money, I decide what I do with it, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of it. My financial stuff is my business. It is always tough to give up money. I've won and lost in my career and I'm at a stage where I want to be happy," Bibby said.
4 Udonis Haslem – Between $10 and $14 Million
NBA Power forward Udonis Haslem was offered a hefty sum to leave Miami in 2010. Reports differ as to who made the offer, some sources said it was the Dallas Mavericks, others said it was the Denver Nuggets. Either way, Haslem refused to part with his team and re-signed with them, even though he lost somewhere between $10 million and $14 million.
3 Tim Duncan – $10 Million
Tim Duncan recently signed another-three year contract with the San Antonio Spurs for $30 million dollars, under half his previous contract with them. He received $21 million last year from his previous contract with the team.
The $10 million will now go to hiring shooting guard Danny Green, forward Boris Diaw, and point guards Nando De Colo and Patty Mills.
This pay cut now drops Duncan from the third highest-earning NBA player to the 61st, but all for the team, he says. How’s that for a team player?
2 3 & 2. LeBron James and Chris Bosh – $15 Million
Basketball superstars Lebron James and Chris Bosh signed matching six-year contracts with the Miami Heat in 2011 for $110 million. Both of them lost $15 million over the life of the contract. James just ended his deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Bosh ended his with the Toronto Raptors.
1 Dwyane Wade – $18 Million
How was the entry of Lebron James and Chris Bosh into the team accommodated? Heat guard Dwyane Wade agreed to give up $18 million so the team could have enough left to bring the two in.
According to a source, the contracts have an early termination clause option after the fourth season, which would allow LeBron, Bosh, and Wade to return to being free agents in the summer of 2014.
Each of the vaunted “Big Three” also has the option to enter the final season.
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