PBT- Bargnani talked about it with Italian newspaper il Fatto Quotidiano...
“I would have done it for free because the money at this time does not matter,” said Bargnani who’s made $72 million in his NBA career… “I just hope I can have a decent playing time, scoring as many points and exceed goals,” he told interviewer Malcom Pagani . “I do not think I was lucky (last year). Luck is good health that allows you to prove your talent at the right time. The rest is the work. I made risky choices, indeed extremely risky and I intend to continue to take risks. I accept all the criticism, it is living in a beautiful dream, I know myself. “
Well, I mean, that doesn't mean he's going to, but trust him on his word, he totally would, you know, if the league wasn't required to pay him. I think this quote raises a solid debate. What is more aggravating to the average fan? A player that talks about his millions upon millions of dollars like it's pocket change, or the player that acknowledges how filthy, stinking rich they are? We have always criticized players like Latrell Sprewell for trying to "feed his family", or Josh Smith for a $7 million dollar salary being "harder on his family", but what about the player that comes out and essentially says "I'm so rich I don't even need anymore money". For a person that works paycheck to paycheck that has to be nearly as frustrating, right? Think about Bargnani's career. He's basically made $72 million since he entered the league solely by being an overrated prospect. If he was drafted in the second round instead of being the first overall pick he wouldn't even be in the NBA. That guy, the 29 year old who failed so miserably to live up to his expectations, could easily not make another cent for the rest of his life and live lavishly.
To say that you would play for free is normally considered selfless until you realize that Andrea Bargnani has been overpaid, even by NBA standards, for his entire career. Then it starts to seem more cocky than anything else. "Oh, look at me, I'm Andrea Bargnani, the $72 million dollar bust. I would play this game for free, but obviously that's not possible, so I'll just keep collecting these unearned paychecks even though I don't really want to". Now, I'm sure something was lost in translation, but I don't think it was Bargnani's lack of a need for financial incentives.
Put your money where your mouth is Andrea. Donate your current contract to charity. Walk out of the tunnel at the Barclay's Center and incite a riot by launching a couple thousand $100's into the crowd. It's very easy to play for free if you really want to, but until then, don't bother saying it.