The Golden State Warriors Paid Plenty of Green for Their NBA Championship

With a roster that costs about $350 million due to the NBA's luxury tax, the Warriors are the most expensive team in the history of North American professional sports

Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors pose for a photo.
The Golden State Warriors are champions and their owners paid handsomely for the title.
Adam Glanzman/Getty

With their fourth championship in eight years, the Golden State Warriors have to be considered the undisputed bosses of the National Basketball Association — and their owners are certainly paying the cost to hold that title.

Largely due to Stephen Curry ($45,780,966), Klay Thompson ($37,980,720), Andrew Wiggins ($31,579,390) and Draymond Green ($24,026,712) making approximately $25 million or (substantially) more this season, the Warriors have the NBA’s most expensive payroll at a cost of roughly $176 million. But, due to the NBA’s luxury tax penalties (which escalate over time), Golden State also owes more than $170 million in tax payments. That being the case, ownership will end up shelling out a total expenditure of about $346 million for this year’s team, making the NBA champs the most expensive team in the history of North American pro sports, per CBS.

That was pointed out earlier this week by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst after Wiggins, a former No. 1 pick who was generally considered a bust until arriving in Golden State, dropped 26 points and snagged 13 rebounds in a Game 5 win for the Dubs. “They kept Andrew Wiggins and boy did he show up tonight. He was the throw-in in a trade,” Windhorst said. “Other teams would have totally gotten rid of him. They stuck with him. They have a $340 million payroll when you consider taxes. You don’t just have to beat the Warriors on the court, you’ve got to beat their checkbook. Taking nothing away from Andrew Wiggins but this was a checkbook win for the Warriors.”

Does that take anything away from their title? Not at all. In fact, Golden State’s owners, highlighted by Joe Lacob, should be commended for their willingness to spend on their team. That willingness has brought the Warriors from being a perennial lottery team to their new status as annual championship contenders and the second-most valuable franchise in the NBA with a value of $5.6 billion, according to Forbes. It takes money to make money and, by extension, it takes making money to win championships. Just ask the George Steinbrenner-era New York Yankees.

Prior to last night’s game, it was theorized that the Warriors’ track record of losing close-out games on the road was intentional in order to give ownership a Game 7 at home. Golden State made about $7 million per home game in the first and second rounds of the playoffs with that number rising to roughly $10 million in the Western Conference finals, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. That conspiracy theory, while excellent, was put on ice when the Warriors defeated the Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, denying Lacob a chance to pad his profits with a final game back in San Fran.

Given that Lacob’s franchise (and its $350 million payroll) is back on top, it’s hard to imagine he cares too much about missing out on $10 million or so.

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