A handful of stars have approached and even crossed the magical monetary mountaintop, which is something when you consider that the collective bargaining agreement has a maximum salary restraint.
Michael Jordan – who else? – was the first player to make $30 million in one season, negotiating about an 800 percent raise after the 1995-96 season. That was Jordan’s first full campaign after returning from his first retirement, when he led the Chicago Bulls to a record 72 wins and was MVP of both the regular season and NBA Finals.
Jordan took a 10 percent raise to $33.14 million for the 1997-98 season, his last before retiring again. Since then, both Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett easily could have crossed the threshold had they not reworked their deals to take less money over more years.