By Ross Kelly
Besides the obvious on-field perks of being teammates with a superstar athlete, there are plenty of off-the-field benefits as well. For example, imagine you’re Joe Harris of the Cleveland Cavaliers. You’re a second-round rookie who has been sent to the D-league 11 times this season and is making $884,879 (which is still more than Matthew Dellavedova). Then imagine, as a bonding moment, a teammate hooks you up with the new Apple Watch days before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Well that’s exactly what happened in a Bay Area hotel as LeBron James gave all of his Cavs’ teammates Apple watches, and haircuts.
Here is a list of other notable gifts that athletes gave their teammates as a token of their appreciation (and a pimping of their endorsements/partnerships).
10. Aaron Rodgers – LED Curved TVs
This past season was a special one for Aaron Rodgers as he won his second NFL MVP award. But it may have been even more special for some of his teammates. When the Packers’ O-linemen, including reserves and practice squad players, and backup QBs showed up to team headquarters, they found 55-inch LED Curved TVs, tablets, and Beats headphones in their lockers. I’m sure they appreciate that much more than the “texts” that Brett Favre used to give them.
9. Dwight Howard – Watches and Shoes
Howard has gone all out in his time in Houston by lavishing multiple teammates with gifts. He bought James Harden an Audemars Piguet (AKA a really fancy) watch while Chandler Parsons and Omri Casspi were among teammates who received Rolexes. The big man even hooked up Aaron Brooks with an ultra-limited pair of Nike Air Mags (the shoes Marty McFly wore in BTTF II when he is transported to 2015). But Howard got extra personal with 12th man Isaiah Canaan by giving the youngster a ‘hands-on’ display of Superman’s grip strength:
8. Kobe Bryant – Night out in Vegas
The Mamba has been known to be hard on teammates but he showed them some love during the preseason a couple of years ago. The Lakers annually play preseason games in Las Vegas and according to former Laker Andrew Goudelock; Kobe took the team to the MGM Grand Hotel on his dime. There’s no word on how much money was spent but Goudelock says Kobe “bought the whole top floor for the team” and “let us ball out for the night”.
7. DeMarco Murray – iMacs and Orefici watches
After Week 7 of the 2014 NFL season, DeMarco Murray had a league-leading 913 rushing yards. How did he reward his O-linemen? He bought them all iMacs with 21.5” monitors, valued at a retail price of $1299.99. But that was just the midseason gift. After the regular season ended, Murray then splurged on Orefici watches for 22 of his offensive teammates.
6. Tony Romo – Louis Vuitton Travel Bags
Not to be outdone by DeMarco Murray hooking up the Cowboys’ linemen with iMacs, Romo purchased Louis Vuitton travel bags for some players prior to their London trip. The retail value was between $16,000 and $24,000, easily affordable for the QB who made $13.5 million last year. While Murray bought the iMacs for just the starting O-linemen, Romo went a step further and purchased the bags for eight players – the seven O-linemen who saw action and, of course, the BFF, Jason Witten.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo – Bulgari watches
In 2014 Real Madrid won their 10th Champions League and Cristiano Ronaldo rewarded his teammates with personalized Bulgari watches worth roughly $10,000 apiece. But in true Ronaldo fashion, not only did each watch have the player’s name engraved in it, but also “CR7” was engraved just to remind them of exactly whom the watches came from.
4. Adrian Peterson – Snowmobiles
After becoming just the 7th man to reach 2000 rushing yards in a single-season, Adrian Peterson showed some love for his linemen. The five starters each received customized Arctic Cat Snowmobiles which seems like a necessity for those Minnesota winters. The vehicles ranged in price from $8K to $12.5K but AD can surely afford them as he is the only $100 million running back in NFL history.
3. Tom Brady – Audi Q7s
After completing the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history in 2007, how did Tom Brady reward the five men who helped keep him upright? Brady equipped each of his starting O-linemen with Audi Q7 SUVs valued at the time at $42,500. In subsequent years Brady has been known to supply not only his linemen, but the entire Patriots team with a pair of Ugg Boots.
2. Russell Wilson – First-Class Roundtrip Tickets
Despite not (yet) having the big seven-figure contract that many of his peers have, Wilson wasn’t bashful last year in rewarding his teammates. The Seahawks players and staff each received two first-class, roundtrip tickets provided by Alaska Air. Just imagine the gifts they’ll receive once Wilson actually gets that big money contract.
1. Shaquille O’Neal – A Phantom for the King
Shaq didn’t have many memorable on-court moments in his one year with Cleveland, but he sure made an impression off of it. On LeBron James’ 25th birthday in December 2009, Superman bestowed the King with a white Rolls-Royce Phantom IV. This was the most exclusive Rolls-Royce model ever built and comes in at around $400,000. No word on what Shaq bought Kobe for his 25th.