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Arizona Wildcats among best earners in the NBA

Mike Bibby, seen here in December 1997, tops the list of UA earners in the NBA. Photo by Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images Sport

We know that former Arizona Wildcats basketball players have made mountains of moolah playing in the NBA, but how much exactly?

The Wall Street Journal pegs UA alums as having earned the third-highest salary total in the NBA since 1985, raking in $738 million. Arizona trails North Carolina ($853 million) and Duke ($809 million).

The Cats rank ahead of Georgetown ($727 million) and Michigan ($715 million).

But I think they should have a bigger cushion.

I have kept a database of Arizona’s salaries in the NBA for several years, writing as recently as last summer that the salary total from Lute’s recruits will eventually approach a staggering $1 billion.

While dismissing a few stray hundreds of thousands of dollars here and there, my numbers differ from the Wall Street Journal’s by about $31 million.

That is mostly accounted for by the more than $29 million the Memphis Grizzlies still owed Michael Dickerson when he stopped playing after the 2003-04 season because of injuries.

The WSJ, which used Basketball-Reference.com as one of its research tools (as did I), credits Dickerson with career earnings of $17,113,162. The total value of his contracts, however, was about $46.5 million.

Jared Diamond, the author of the Wall Street Journal story, wrote in an e-mail that “we did not count money that was owed to a player after his playing career ended.” Fair enough.

But I will continue to say that NBA money earned by UA alums from 1985 through last season — the time frame fits perfectly with “Lute’s recruits” — is closer to $770 million than the figure reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Something to keep in mind as we continue to keep score.

Here is my individual salary breakdown of UA alums in the NBA:

Mike Bibby $106,224,440
Gilbert Arenas $100,634,824
Damon Stoudamire $100,535,041
Richard Jefferson $76,115,034
Jason Terry $74,589,461
Michael Dickerson $46,504,960
Andre Iguodala $44,824,259
Sean Elliott $40,626,666
Chris Mills $37,370,000
Bison Dele $22,159,500
Luke Walton $22,131,977
Channing Frye $17,338,889
Sean Rooks $17,173,000
Steve Kerr $16,119,000
Jud Buechler $11,365,000
Khalid Reeves $9,013,309
Jerryd Bayless $6,429,240
Jordan Hill $5,152,800
Loren Woods $3,468,931
Tom Tolbert $2,919,500
Anthony Cook $2,295,000
Salim Stoudamire $2,187,000
Chase Budinger $1,238,459
Ben Davis $715,847
Hassan Adams $709,881
Miles Simon $672,500
Reggie Geary $492,250
Ed Stokes $272,500
Ray Owes $220,000
A.J. Bramlett $118,974
Mustafa Shakur $89,670
Pete Williams $70,000
Marcus Williams $52,209
Matt Othick $13,000
TOTAL $769,843,121

Sources: The USA TODAY salary database, Basketball-Reference.com, a variety of news stories and Tucson Citizen archives. The USA Today database and basketball-reference.com do not agree in all cases, but the differences are usually minor.

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