You have to make sacrifices to become an NBA champion, and the San Antonio Spurs were full of guys willing to do just that over the course of their dynasty.
From 1999 to 2014, the Alamo City enjoyed five championships and sustained regular season excellence unlike just about any city has in sports. As a result, the fanbase has become a bit irrationally upset with the resulting transition period, but that's a story for another day.
I recently came across a tweet sharing a screenshot of the 2014 title-winning Spurs' payroll, which included a lot of staggering numbers.
Obviously, the first thing that sticks out is that Tim Duncan made just under $10.37 million that year despite already being a legendary superstar. That was only $361,000 more than fourth-year center Tiago Splitter, who'd received a significant raise after averaging 10.3 and 6.4 the season prior.
Duncan's desire for a fifth trophy clearly took precedence over money by this time, as he could've gotten whatever he wanted from the front office if he only asked. Instead, San Antonio was able to sign or retain important complementary pieces like Splitter, Boris Diaw, Danny Green, and Marco Belinelli.
Comparing Duncan's Salary to the 2021-22 Roster
Looking at the 2021-22 Spurs, three guys made more this season than Duncan did in his final championship year:
- Dejounte Murray: $15.43 million
- Doug McDermott: $13.75 million
- Josh Richardson: $11.62 million
Just to be diligent, let's look at this comparison when accounting for inflation from 2014 to 2022. Per usinflationcalculator.com, the buying power of Duncan's exact contract amount in 2014 would be $12,417,663 today. That still would put him third behind Murray and McDermott on this season's roster.
Duncan wasn't the only one to take a pay cut when accounting for talent level, though. Tony Parker ($12.5 million) and Manu Ginobili ($7.5 million) were both also greatly underpaid that season to make room for other talents.
Parker's contract would equate to $14.98 million today while Ginobili's would be about $8.98 million. That would put Tony at second on this year's team while Manu would be just ahead of Jakob Poeltl ($8.75 million) for fourth.
For fun, here are some guys in the NBA today making about what the Big Three were making in 2014:
Tim Duncan - $12.4 million
- Terrence Ross - $12.5 million
- Jordan Clarkson - $12.4 million
- Dillon Brooks - $12.2 million
Tony Parker - $14.98 million
- Norman Powell - $15.5 million
- Malik Beasley - $14.49 million
Manu Ginobili - $8.98 million
- James Wiseman - $9.16 million
- Jalen Green - $8.99 million
- Maxi Kleber - $8.82 million
Something tells me the days of multiple stars taking drastic pay cuts as the Spurs did that year are over, which says a lot about how special San Antonio's stars were.