Spanish soccer club Real Madrid’s new President Florentino Perez did what any good newly crowned ruler would, he got drunk with power and started throwing money around like he’s been printing it in his basement.
In the past two weeks Real Madrid set the transfer fee record by paying 56.1 million pounds for Brazilian star Kaka, a player whose name appeals to toilet humor aficionados the world over. Not happy with this show of force, Perez broke his own newly set record by paying 80 million pounds for soccer’s pretty boy Cristiano Ronaldo.
For the biggest stars, contracts are treated with all the care afforded a college girlfriend: honored until a better offer comes along.
But what if American sports adopted this system? Drop salary caps, arbitration and rookie contracts, and the sports landscape becomes a wild west for negotiation. Here are 5 current NFL, NBA and MLB athletes who would benefit most in this theoretical brave new world:
5. Evan Longoria – The MLB would adapt quickest to this new situation and, rumor has it, is already the source of Scott Boras’ wet dreams. One can only imagine what it would be like if Steinbrenner was still at his maniacal peak. For a second year third baseman who can flash the leather and knock the cover off the ball? Blank check.
4. Dwayne Wade – Basketball owners freed from the shackles of the salary cap and allowed to spend with impunity would salivate at the chance to get Flash signed. With only 5 guys on the court at a time, this change would have the biggest impact in the NBA where owners could get the most bang for their buck. James Dolan has already thrown his inherited Cablevision fortune at a terrible Knicks teams for years, now nothing would stop him from doing the same for proven superstars like D Wade.
3. Zack Greinke – Big league aces are already breaking the bank in the MLB. Barry Zito got his curve working for one season and now he heats his mansion by burning hundred dollar bills. Under appreciated by most outside of K.C. last season, young ace Greinke hit the ground running in 2009 and could be the cornerstone of any team’s rotation for years to come. Meaning his great-grandkids wouldn’t have to work.
2. Tom Brady – The NFL is the most profitable professional league, and has owners who have proven their lunacy in the past. But there are a ton of players to pay, and not all of those team coffers are bottomless. Still a quality quarterback can instantly transform a franchise – and the knee issues not withstanding – Tom Brady would break the bank. The real fun would be watching the steel cage money match between Al Davis, Jerry Jones and Dave Snyder.
1. Lebron James – King James has been at the center of an ongoing rumor tornado since he first got drafted. The hometown Ohio boy has had teams eyeing the 2010 off-season even under the existing rules. With the global marketing opportunities, his game dominating ability and the instant franchise credibility, it would only be a matter of time before Saudi royalty bought the Clippers and unloaded a Scrooge McDuck fortune to get the King.