Johnson tops earnings list for athletes.
Though his team, the Atlanta Hawks, has a total annual payroll that ranks 26th out of the 30 NBA teams with $47.8 million, the sharp-shooting Johnson became its franchise player when he inked a five-year, $70 million deal before the 2005-06 season. The struggling Hawks obtained Johnson on Aug. 19, 2005, from the Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade transaction in exchange for Boris Diaw and two conditional draft picks.
The 6-foot-7 guard/forward's $12 million was enough to top the list of the 35 highest-paid professional athletes who have called Arkansas home or attended school in the state.
Johnson played two seasons at the University of Arkansas (1999-01), earning All-America honors as a sophomore and a Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year nod while there. He is entering his third season of the five-year deal and will pull in just more than $13 million in 2007-08.
The former Little Rock Central standout has steadily improved his output during his six NBA seasons and became Atlanta's marquee player last season en route to a career year in a handful of statistical categories.
Injury became a problem last season for the first time in Johnson's career, when an ailing right calf sidelined him for the season's final 21 games, dampening his best NBA campaign. Johnson was named to his first NBA All-Star game and finished ninth in the league in scoring with a 25 points-per-game average, before his NBA-best streak of 376 consecutive games played came to an end with the calf injury Dec. 10.
Johnson was Atlanta's workhorse, having logged an average of 41.4 minutes played per game, which was second-best in the league last year. Johnson also helped lead Team USA to an 8-1 record and a bronze medal in international basketball competition in 2006.
CNN/Sports Illustrated NBA beat writer Jack McCallum recently wrote that he expects the Hawks to challenge for a playoff spot this season and that Johnson "is ready to be recognized as an elite player."
The last time Arkansas Business compiled a list of the state's highest-paid professional athletes, in 2005, Minnesota Twins firecracker Torii Hunter, a product of Pine Bluff, sat atop the group with a $6.5 million annual payday.
Though he was bumped by the Atlanta Hawks' Johnson this time, it's likely Hunter will soon far surpass the field as he's likely to entertain top-ofthe-market offers after becoming a free agent when the season wrapped up two weeks ago. The seven-time Gold Glove winner is considered by many analysts to be the top free agent on the market this off-season and is rumored to be on the radar of several teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.
Hunter was brought up through the Twins' well-respected development system, beginning with a $200,000 paycheck in 1999.
"I came up with these coaches when I was 17 years old and not able to hit a slider," he told the Associated Press following what could have been his last game with the Twins Sept. 30. "They've been with me since Day 1. I'm still hopeful that I can come back and play with the team that I grew up with; I'm still hopeful. But whatever happens, happens."
Most analysts agree that the electrifying centerfielder will be dealt from the Twins, as the ball club does not have a reputation for spending on high-priced free agents.
Baseball players took up six of the top 35 spots on the list, totaling $30.1 million.
Pat Burrell--who tends to downplay his Arkansas ties, unlike most on the list--was born in Eureka Springs and pulled in $9.75 million with the Phillies in 2006. The leftfielder helped lead Philadelphia to the post-season this year with a .258 batting average, but the Phillies made a quick exit last week after being swept by the Colorado Rockies. Burrell, who went 2-for-ll in the three-game sweep, made $13.25 million in 2007.
A.J. Burnett, the pride of Central Arkansas Christian School, was short-changed on the list, as his $2.2 million salary in 2006 does not accurately reflect the $13.3 million he earned in 2007 once bonuses kicked in with his new team, the Toronto Blue Jays. He would be the highest-paid athlete if the list were ranked by this year's earnings.
Benton native Cliff Lee, whose Cleveland Indians are currently battling the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, made the list with a salary of $406,200 in 2006, but he pulled in a beefy $3 million in 2007.
Gridiron Gold Par for the course in Arkansas, football dominates the list.
Gridiron stars tackled 20 spots on the list and scored more than $50 million among the state's 35 best-paid athletes.
Shawn Andrews, who played at 375 pounds while opening holes for the Pazorbacks' running game, rode his 2004 No. 1 draft pick status to a $10.7 million payday for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006. That doubled the $4.9 million he earned in 2005 and was enough to make him the highest-paid football player on the list.
Andrews signed a seven-year contract extension in June 2006, leading many to speculate it was at the franchise's request that he dropped nearly 40 pounds before the deal was inked. That's not the case, the 340-pounder told the AP.
"I had a friend my age who died of a heart attack," Andrews said. "Secondly, I feel a lot better getting into my stance. It's a lot easier to go play after play without having that big stomach in the way and gasping for air all the time."
Several newcomers with Arkansas ties are rookies this season; otherwise they would make the list, including ex-Hogs Jamaal Anderson (2007 first-round pick, Atlanta Falcons), Chris Houston (second-round, Atlanta) and Tony Ugoh (second-round, Indianapolis Colts).
Down But Not Out
The Arkansan on the list who undoubtedly takes the most pride in his home state is middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor, who lost a Sept. 29 match in Atlantic City, N.J., to Kelly Pavlik, Taylor's first loss since he turned professional.
Pavlik, who is to Youngstown, Ohio, what Taylor is to Little Rock, overcame a second-round knockdown to take Taylor's title belts with a brutal KO in Round 7.
Taylor earned an estimated $7.6 million in 2006, which is simply the total of the two fight purses he earned in bouts against Winky Wright in Memphis and Kassim Ouma in Little Rock that year. The purse in the Wright fight was $4.6 million, and the Ouma package was roughly $3 million.
"That's just purse amounts," said Andrew Meadors, business adviser to Team Taylor. "There are a lot of other factors that go into what Jermain earns, like pay-per-view cuts, endorsements and all of those outside things we don't need to get into."
Meadors said Taylor has recovered fine from his dramatic collapse in the corner in Atlantic City and that Team Taylor stands by the boxer's post-fight comments that a rematch with Pavlik will indeed be his next fight.
"A lot can happen in this business to change things, but there will undoubtedly be a rematch and will likely be the next fight for both fighters," Meadors said.
Boxing beat writers agree that following the fireworks of the first Pavlik-Taylor fight, the rematch will likely earn record paydays for both boxers and will draw more eyes to the middle-weight ranks than ever during Taylor's two-year reign as champ.
By Nate Hinkel
2006 Top Ten Golfers Ken Duke $520,678 Tag Ridings $498,242 Ron Whittaker $310,046 Glen Day $290,635 Craig Lile $211,840 Bryce Molder $205,413 Brenden Pappas $193,745 John Daly $192,134 Richard Johnson $107,833 Deane Pappas $87,414 Highest-Paid Athletes Ranks by salary and/or winnings in 2006 First Name Last Name 2006 Salary 2005 Salary 1 Joe Johnson $12,000,000 $2,358,954 2 Torii Hunter $10,750,000 $8,000,000 3 Shawn Andrews $10,713,125 $4,922,930 4 Pat Burrell $9,750,000 $7,250,000 5 Jermain Taylor $7,600,000 (1) (2) 6 Kevin Williams $7,042,000 $380,000 7 Corliss Williamson (3) $6,000,000 $5,500,000 8 Derek Fisher $5,390,000 $4,930,000 8 Matt Jones $5,390,000 $1,260,000 10 Rod Smith $5,009,510 $5,010,810 11 Bobbie Williams $5,000,000 $1,550,000 12 Eric Hinske $4,425,000 $3,100,000 13 Mark Martin $4,282,548 $5,994,353 14 Jason Peters $3,252,420 $309,510 15 David Barrett $3,055,000 $2,000,000 16 Greg Wesley $2,900,000 $2,208,750 17 Ryan Franklin $2,600,000 $2,600,000 18 A.J. Burnett $2,200,000 $3,650,000 19 Jannero Pargo $2,080,000 $895,248 20 Carlos Emmons (4) $2,000,000 $3,840,000 21 Kenoy Kennedy $1,904,000 $3,953,320 22 Ronnie Brewer $1,595,400 (5) 23 Dante Wesley $1,010,000 $661,280 24 DeAngelo Williams $980,000 (5) 25 Mark Bradley $954,400 $1,930,000 26 Steve Foley $879,290 $2,291,430 27 Keith Traylor $820,000 $1,015,000 28 Ken Duke $520,678 (2) 29 Ken Hamlin $502,200 $381,760 30 Cleo Lemon $430,610 $11,3037 30 Caleb Miller $430,610 $309,730 32 Jordan Babineaux $429,840 $309,840 33 Corey Williams $428,520 $309,730 34 Cliff Lee $406,200 $345,000 35 Cedric Houston $354,400 $324,750 First Name Last Name Team/Sponsor Sport 1 Joe Johnson Atlanta Hawks Basketball 2 Torii Hunter Minnesota Twins Baseball 3 Shawn Andrews Philadelphia Eagles Football 4 Pat Burrell Philadelphia Phillies Baseball 5 Jermain Taylor Team Taylor Boxing 6 Kevin Williams Minnesota Vikings Football 7 Corliss Williamson (3) Sacramento Kings Basketball 8 Derek Fisher Los Angeles Lakers Basketball 8 Matt Jones Jacksonville Jaguars Football 10 Rod Smith Denver Broncos Football 11 Bobbie Williams Cincinnati Bengals Football 12 Eric Hinske Boston Red Sox Baseball 13 Mark Martin Dale Earnhardt Inc. Nascar 14 Jason Peters Buffalo Bills Football 15 David Barrett New York Jets Football 16 Greg Wesley Kansas City Chiefs Football 17 Ryan Franklin St. Louis Cardinals Baseball 18 A.J. Burnett Toronto Blue Jays Baseball 19 Jannero Pargo New Orleans/OKC Hornets Basketball 20 Carlos Emmons (4) New York Giants Football 21 Kenoy Kennedy Detroit Lions Football 22 Ronnie Brewer Utah Jazz Basketball 23 Dante Wesley Carolina Panthers Football 24 DeAngelo Williams Carolina Panthers Football 25 Mark Bradley Chicago Bears Football 26 Steve Foley San Diego Chargers Football 27 Keith Traylor Miami Dolphins Football 28 Ken Duke Golf 29 Ken Hamlin Dallas Cowboys Football 30 Cleo Lemon Miami Dolphins Football 30 Caleb Miller Cincinnati Bengals Football 32 Jordan Babineaux Seattle Seahawks Football 33 Corey Williams Green Bay Packers Football 34 Cliff Lee Cleveland Indians Baseball 35 Cedric Houston New York Jets Football Arkansas Connection: First Name Last Name Hometown/College 1 Joe Johnson Little Rock/University of Arkansas 2 Torii Hunter Pine Bluff 3 Shawn Andrews Camden/UA 4 Pat Burrell Eureka Springs 5 Jermain Taylor Little Rock 6 Kevin Williams Fordyce 7 Corliss Williamson (3) Russellville/UA 8 Derek Fisher Little Rock/University of Arkansas at Little Rock 8 Matt Jones Fort Smith/UA 10 Rod Smith Texarkana 11 Bobbie Williams UA 12 Eric Hinske UA 13 Mark Martin Batesville 14 Jason Peters UA 15 David Barrett Osceola/UA 16 Greg Wesley England/University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 17 Ryan Franklin Fort Smith 18 A.J. Burnett North Little Rock 19 Jannero Pargo UA 20 Carlos Emmons (4) Arkansas State University 21 Kenoy Kennedy UA 22 Ronnie Brewer Fayetteville/UA 23 Dante Wesley UAPB 24 DeAngelo Williams Wynne 25 Mark Bradley Pine Bluff 26 Steve Foley Little Rock 27 Keith Traylor Malvern 28 Ken Duke Arkadelphia/Henderson State University 29 Ken Hamlin UA 30 Cleo Lemon ASU 30 Caleb Miller UA 32 Jordan Babineaux Southern Arkansas University 33 Corey Williams Harmony Grove/ASU 34 Cliff Lee Benton/UA 35 Cedric Houston Clarendon Sources: National Football League Players Association, USA Today.com Salaries Database, Nascar, business managers, agents (1) Purse total from Winky Wright and Kassim Ouma bouts (2) Undisclosed (3) Now retired (4) Released from Giants prior to current season; currently not playing in the NFL (5) Undrafted
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||SPORTS; Joe Johnson ranked as highest paid athlete|
|Date:||Oct 15, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Imagine there's no Darren, no Felix too.|
|Next Article:||Dickey-Stephens hits a home run during first year.|
|Team XO track club up and running.|
|Hunter is state's highest-paid jock.|
|A MEET FIT FOR THE ELITE.|
|Track athletes' earnings on course.|
|Incomes, contracts vary widely.|