I have often made the joke that if you have LeBron James anchoring your team, you could literally grab four guys from a pick-up game at the YMCA and still be competitive. When King James moved to Hollywood, and I saw Alex Caruso alongside LeBron, I thought he was testing the theory. When I saw Jared Dudley in a Lakers jersey, I knew LeBron was reading my tweets.
I attended a random Milwaukee Bucks game in 2007 (it was “60s Night”) during Christmas while visiting family. Recently I discovered I had unknowingly seen Dudley play during his rookie season with the (then) Charlotte Bobcats.
By the time I really took notice of Dudley, he was an out-of-shape three point shooter who occasionally came off the bench in Phoenix. He was brought in to take a buzzer-beating shot that landed nowhere near the rim, and I was sure he had won a bet that allowed him to suit up with Phoenix.
But I was wrong, Dudley has had a thirteen year long career and has played for seven NBA teams, his longest stint and best years with the Phoenix Suns. And as many players do in the twilight of their professional life, they chase the ring. Whose coattails are better to ride on than LeBron James?
According to Sportrac, “Jared Dudley signed a 1 year/$2,564,753 contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, guaranteed, while carrying a cap hit of $1,620,564 and a dead cap value of $1,620,564.”
Two-and-a-half-million dollars to ride the pine on a LeBron James led team. At this point, you don’t even have to stretch because you aren’t stepping in unless (a) the Lakers get blown out, or (b) the Lakers blow out their opponent. In fact, his only minutes (four, in fact) in the postseason came in the garbage time of the Lakers 30-point loss to Phoenix on Tuesday.
Last season with the Lakers, Dudley played in 45 games an averaged 8.1 minutes. That’s just over 6 hours of work to earn him roughly $2.4M, or $400,000 an hour.
This season he only played in twelve games. Compare that to his 45 during the season halted by a pandemic. His average minutes per game also went down to 6.8 giving him a grand total of 81.6 minutes. That breaks down to $31,430 PER MINUTE!
Oh, and in-between those season, he picked up an NBA Championship ring. It doesn’t matter what role you play on a team, when you roll home with a ring, people put you on a pedestal. He will forever be Jared Dudley, NBA Champion.
And why not celebrate that, the reality is thousands of hours go into each players career. From the time they are young until they sign on the dotted line, they and their families have truly sacrificed to make the dream come true. In that way, Dudley is no different that any other player.
His thirteen seasons counters my limited knowledge of him and his career. If he’d been a Spur, I’d know his life story.
After thirteen seasons, it’s great to come off the bench in limited minutes. And to be rewarded with a title for your efforts, all the better.
Of course, this season did not end as sweet as the last for Dudley and the Lakers. With Anthony Davis returning to his injury-prone form and LeBron finally showing some age, the cobbling of James and some YMCA pick-up players were mightily eliminated with blowouts in the final two games, both of which were played with AD.
Win or lose, in my opinion, Jared Dudley had the best job in the NBA this season.
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