When John Wall looks in the mirror, this is what's staring back at him: A former No. 1 overall draft pick who has become a franchise point guard with two NBA All-Star selections, a second-team All-Defense nod and an $80 million max contract bearing his signature.
Detroit Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson has none of Wall's accolades or status, but he does match Wall in one way: Both players have five-year, $80 million contracts with Eastern Conference teams.
"I'm getting the same as Reggie Jackson," Wall lamented to CSN Washington on Tuesday.
A career backup (unless Russell Westbrook was injured) who was traded to the Pistons in February, Jackson, 25, had struggled with shooting and turnovers all season before enjoying a late-season resurgence. His turnaround was dramatic, and was perfectly summed up by this ridiculous scoop shot against the Bulls in April:
Apparently, his improved play was enough to earn him an $80 million contract from the Pistons in free agency earlier this month.
How can Jackson, a player who many thought was foolish for turning down a $48 million contract extension from the Thunder in November 2014, end up earning over $30 million more than what his value was just seven months prior despite showing few signs of consistent improvement? And how the hell is he earning the same money as Wall, who signed his $80 million deal in 2013?
"I guess they came in at the right time," Wall explained, while pointing out how the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for increased cap space and spending. "That new CBA kicked in, and they're good now. Reggie Jackson gets five years, $80 million."
"People talk about me getting $80 million, now you got people getting $85 million that haven't made the All-Star [Game] or anything like that."
The offseason has been fruitful for this year's class of free agents. Emboldened by a rising salary cap thanks to the NBA's multi-billion dollar television deal, which will kick-in at the start of the 2016-17 season, teams are doling out massive contracts that may look eye-popping today, but will prove to be relatively sensible in hindsight as teams rake in gobs of television dollars.
It's why career role players like Enes Kanter, Omer Asik and Iman Shumpert received new contracts in free agency that pay them each over $10 million per season.
"But I'm happy for all those guys," Wall, 24, continued. "To see anybody get the opportunity to live their dream out, get the opportunity to take care of their family when they can, it's a blessing."
The Washington Wizards point guard will have his shot to make more money than Jackson in 2019, when he hits free agency. Until then, the fact remains: Wall is getting the same as Reggie Jackson.