Illustration for article titled If NBA Owners Get Their Way, LeBron James, Kevin Durant Among Players Who Could Be Forced to Return Salary
Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy (Getty Images)

As someone who lives in Los Angeles and fraternizes with more public figures and celebrities than I care to admit, one thing I can say with complete certainty is that many of their lives are a façade.

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Their carefully curated Instagram accounts will have you believe that they live a life of luxury and extravagance, but most of that shit was given to them for free—no, really—and they’re actually either broke as hell or living check to check like the rest of us.

And that’s by no means shade, it’s just a grim reality that many of our favs either refuse to acknowledge or work extraordinarily hard to conceal.

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To that end, the coronavirus is kicking all of our asses. Some of us are blessed to still be able to generate income during this pandemic, but there are plenty of people in lucrative industries like sports or entertainment who aren’t making a dime. And on Monday, NBA star CJ McCollum appeared on ESPN’s The Boardroom and admitted that despite their enormous salaries, NBA players are struggling to survive like everybody else.

“I would say there’s some guys in the league who are hurting right now because...there could be a pay stoppage,” he told host Jay Williams. “I think a lot of guys are going to be hurting, especially people on minimums or people that didn’t budget correctly and didn’t expect this to happen. Maybe they loaned money or paid money to family. Maybe they’re taking care of multiple people and now there’s a work stoppage for us and for a lot of people in America.”

He added, “I would say out of 450 players [that] 150 probably are living paycheck to paycheck.”

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Damn. That’s a third of the entire league.

And considering McCollum is vice president of the NBA Players Association, the labor union that represents NBA players, I think it’s safe to say that he knows what he’s talking about. If anything, he might be downplaying that number, so as not to offend anyone.

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But even though such a significant amount of the league is struggling through this pandemic, the NBA is still a business. If players can’t play, owners understandably feel as though they shouldn’t be responsible for continuing to pay them.

What’s surprising, however, is that owners are now looking to recoup some of the money that they’ve already paid players, per CNBC:

National Basketball Association owners could get some financial relief in the form of returned pay in any compensation deal with players, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.

In an hour-long call on Tuesday afternoon, executives at the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the players’ union, cleared up misinformation and told agents that any compensation deal constructed by the NBPA and league owners will include refunds on all NBA contracts.

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This could get ugly.

In order to protect players from their outrageous spending habits, agents typically push for contracts with 12-month payment plans, which prevents their clients from being out here bad once the season is over. But payments in advance are also a thing, as teams commonly entice free agents by offering either full or partial payments upfront.

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More from CNBC:

Players under contracts that run past the current season could be partly spared, as owners could decide to recoup funds over the life of deals. But upcoming free agents who haven’t completed the last year of contracts could be forced to write checks to NBA owners if they got advances.

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So, who all received an advance?

According to New York Times reporter Mark Stein, the list of players who might be forced to return salary include superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving—three players who are notoriously outspoken about interpersonal league dynamics and players’ rights.

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This sounds like a nightmare for all parties involved, players and owners alike, and in a perfect world we’d all wake up to a cure for the coronavirus tomorrow.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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