Your not-so-average neuro or open-heart surgeon makes less money than a basketball player. True, these docs are well paid, but not like the hoopsters. Consider -----
To become a neurosurgeon, one has to go through four years of pre-med at a university. If their grades are good enough, maybe they'll get accepted into med school. Four more years of intense study.
Then typically a five year residency where they work ridiculous hours learning their craft even more. Follow that up with at least a few more years of becoming the "specialists" they finally wind up to be. By that time, they're at least in their early to mid-thirties before they're "full-fledged".
On the other hand, many pro basketball players only do one year in college. In the cases of Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, they never set foot on a campus of higher learning. Straight to the NBA from high school.
Enter multi-million dollar guaranteed contracts and lucrative endorsements galore. Cha-ching after cha-ching.
Surgeons typically don't get many endorsements -- like shoe contracts. And you don't see them making moronic TV commercials either hawking some other product or products.
Thing is, a lot of these cagers likely couldn't pass an eighth grade equivalency exam given 10 tries. But dammit, they can shoot, or rebound, or dribble, and lord knows, all hail the almighty dunk. The talking heads can never seem to get enough of it, though most all players can do it. It's like a 6 inch putt in golf. Lots of different ways to go about it, but it's pretty much automatic, and only if one blows it is it noteworthy. The difference? You won't see pro golfers pounding their chests and screaming, much less hanging on the rim of the cup, not to mention dancing and trash talking when they drain a six incher. This is not a big deal.
Another noteworthy difference is potential liability. If a brain surgeon messes up bad, somebody might die or wind up a vegetable. They would certainly be sued for millions of dollars, perhaps even suspended from practicing for a while. Kiss their income good-bye while waiting and hoping on a favorable result from the powers that be. Nothing guaranteed about that.
If a basketball player messes up bad, he might get sat down on the bench for a while, but he'll keep collecting his whopper paychecks, and nobody's going to haul him off to court.
A whole lot of fans know famous basketball players by name. The hoopsters love to tweet and get their mugs on TV. Any publicity is good publicity, right? Unless it involved one of those pesky domestic incidents or had something to do with illegal drugs and/or driving drunk. Then, maybe not-so-good pub.
What do you think would happen to a neurosurgeon if he beat his wife/girlfriend (or husband/boyfriend -- it happens) and got thrown in the slammer? Or got caught with drugs, illegal weapons, or clubbing it up somewhere, crack pipe in hand? This would spell big trouble, and possibly be career-ending.
Not so much for an NBA player. They might get a reprimand from the league, maybe even be suspended for a game or two, but hardly the end of the world as they know it.
We've often seen basketball players "flop", trying to draw a foul. This tactic likely wouldn't work so well for a neurosurgeon in the OR when things didn't go exactly to plan. Having the head doc, pun sorta intended, writhing on the floor twitching and screaming wouldn't be much help to the poor devil lying on the table with his/her skull opened up. His/her nurses in attendance, and later superiors would most definitely not approve of such behavior. And god help the doc if the patient's lawyers ever found out about it.
Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors has been known to deliver thunderous kicks to the groin of a opponent. Can you imagine a neuro-surgeon booting one of his associates in the cajones if they were a bit slow in the OR? Not me. That likely wouldn't play so well.
[On that note,we could discuss starting pitchers that only have to work once every 5 or 6 days and have no other skills other than throwing a baseball. Or designated hitters that can't field a position, run, or throw. Or apish defensive linemen in the NFL who only know two words -- get quarterback. Or a few others. Most of them get paid more than brain surgeons too, but that's a column for another day.]
Fans may be disappointed if the jocks don't come through and their team falls short.
But not nearly as much as they would be if they had a brain malfunction and the neurosurgeon had a "bad game" while they were the ones getting their heads carved open.
So somebody tell me one more time.
Why do basketball players, and lots of other athletes for that matter, often dumber than the proverbial bricks, get paid so much more than highly trained medical specialists?