Recently, NBA player Lebron James “shocked” the sports world by signing a new contract with his hometown, and nearly always mediocre, Cleveland Cavaliers. To do so, he ditched the Miami Heat, whom he had gone to the NBA Finals with the last four years – winning his first two NBA Finals of his professional career. While I won’t go into the absurdity that was ESPN’s LeBron free agency circus, to say that LeBron held the entire NBA in a waiting game would be an understatement.

While there is little to no doubt that LeBron’s focus is his legacy, he is also in the unique position of being a big enough celebrity that he will have endorsement, movie offers, and other revenue streams available him until the day he dies. He can make the “right” move of chasing championships and building his legacy.

However, guys like Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony aren’t in the same position.

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Bosh and Anthony, like LeBron, were both in the positions of being unrestricted NBA free agents this summer. Any team that offered them a contract, they could have signed with – assuming of course, that cap space and contract negotiations all fell in to place. However, their home teams, Anthony’s New York Knicks and Bosh’s Miami Heat, both had an advantage over other teams in that they could offer a larger monetary contract. Anthony re-signed with New York for $122 million over five years, while Bosh re-upped for $118 million over five years in Miami.

However, both of those teams are, at best, mediocre. There is a good chance Bosh will never win another NBA championship, and unless Anthony gets a lot of help from the newly-hired Phil Jackson in New York, he very well might retire ring-less. Bosh passed up $88 million over four years with the Houston Rockets, which would have been a championship caliber team, and Anthony passed up an opportunity to sign for probably about $60 million over four years with the Chicago Bulls.

Which brings us to the question:

Rings Or Money?

What is the real alpha play in this situation?

It’s important to realize that both Anthony and Bosh are a step (or two) below LeBron’s level. They will never have the “global icon” and branding that he does. When their career is done, they will never again come close to the current level of income stream that they make playing professional basketball.

Frankly, I don’t blame them for taking the money. They both would have left a lot of money on the table had they signed with a new team.

Money Mismanagement

Don’t get me wrong, both of these guys should be in a position to live comfortably the rest of their lives. If I was handed a check for the extra $30 million Bosh got by re-signing with the Heat, I’d be retiring at the ripe age of 23 and never working another day in my life. The money shouldn’t matter to these basketball players, but it does.

It’s only natural that, when your income goes up, your lifestyle and amount of spending rises in conjunction. So sure, these players are raking in millions every year to play basketball, but their lifestyles are so extravagant, their wives so spoiled (looking at you, Melo), and expectations so high – they have no choice but to take the money.

Basketball Players Vs. Worker Bees

If you think about it, basketball players are not that much different than men who are stuck in their dreadful office job. They are slaves to their income stream. While they do differ in that worker bees report every day to make a few thousand dollars a paycheck, while players often make the average annual salary in a single game – the basketball players are forced to take the higher income contract because they need that income stream.

So while you might envy the ball players for their millions of dollars, lavish parties, and athletic abilities – you should realize that they are not that different. This shows in the attitudes and actions of players such as Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.

They are just slaves to money, giving up their opportunities of hoisting championship banners just to make a few extra million. They fear the risk, they fear the failure. They are no different from the man stuck in the cubicle, wasting away – afraid to break the shackles and become a free man.

Maybe there isn’t so much to be envious of after all.

Read More: Learn To Be An Alpha From Athletes