Tag Archives: money

Dec. 2, 1991 – Mets signed Bonilla to the highest paid contract in team sports

The New York Mets, with a flair for the dramatic and an unprecedented expenditure of cash, signed free agent Bobby Bonilla to a lucrative contract that made him (then) the highest-paid player in team sports. The deal had a guaranteed package for five years and worth $29 million ($48.2 million today). The contract had $27.5 million in base salary, as well as $1.5 million in a promotional arrangement.

Bonilla helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to consecutive National League East titles in 1990 and 1991. But without his fellow Pirate stars around him, his offensive production dropped. His stay in New York was also marred by a number of incidents, such as threatening sportswriter Bob Klapisch that he would “show him the Bronx” in response to his book on the 1992 Mets, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse Of The New York Mets.” On another occasion, he called the press box during a game to complain about an error that he was charged with. In 1992 Bonilla hit .249 as the Mets went 72 and 90. Bonilla hit 34 home runs in 1993 and the Mets went 59 and 103.


“I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drinks. The rest I wasted.” – George Best

May 22, 2003 – High school basketball star LeBron James signed with Nike $90 million


Nike won a heated bidding war against sneaker rivals Reebok and Adidas to sign the 18-year-old LeBron James. James’ deal is believed to be the richest ever given as an initial endorsement contract. It is also nearly on par with the five-year, $100 million deal Nike gave Tiger Woods in 2000.

When Jordan signed his first contract with Nike in 1984, it was for $2.5 million over five years. Shaquille O’Neal received $3 million from Reebok in 1992. Four years later, 17-year-old Kobe Bryant skipped college and got $5 million from Adidas.

Reebok signed Allen Iverson to a $50 million lifetime deal in 1996, and Tracy McGrady, another player who went to the NBA straight from high school, signed a six-year, $12 million contract with Adidas in 1997.

James has endorsement contracts with Nike, Sprite, GlacĂ©au, Bubblicious, Upper Deck, McDonald’s, State Farm, Dunkin’ Brands, and Audemars Piguet. In 2011, Fenway Sports Group became the sole global marketer of James’ rights, and as part of the deal, he and his manager Maverick Carter were granted minority stakes in the English Premier League football club Liverpool F.C. As a result of his endorsement money and NBA salary, James has been listed as one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

Feb. 6, 1988 – Larry Bird won his third consecutive Three-Point Shootout


The NBA introduced the Three-Point Shootout competition during the 1986 All-Star Weekend and for the first two years of the competition, Bird was dominant.

Bird won the first three three-point shootouts ever, and even would walk into the locker room before the contests and ask the other contestants who was going to finish second.

Dale Ellis had one of the sweetest shots the league has ever seen, and he was poised to give Bird almost all he could handle. Ellis smoothly knocked down shot after shot in the final round, leaving a score of 15. After tying Ellis with 15 points and with the last ball, the money ball, in his hands Larry ‘Legend’ Bird fired and a second later with the ball barely off his fingers, turned and walked away with his index finger in the air.

Scores from the 1988 Three-Point Shootout:

FIRST Round:
Larry Bird: 17
Dale Ellis: 16

Byron Scott: 19
Detlef Schrempf: 15
Danny Ainge: 14 
Mark Price: 14 
Trent Tucker: 11 
Craig Hodges: 10

Larry Bird: 23
Dale Ellis: 12
Byron Scott: 11
Detlef Schrempf: 5

Larry Bird: 17
Dale Ellis: 15

Highlights from Larry Bird vs Dale Ellis 1988 Finals: