The salaries of players on the Los Angeles Lakers and other NBA teams sometimes make the value of money seem like less than it is. Rookie contracts worth millions of dollars are called “cheap,” 10-day contracts worth more than many earn in a year are referred to as a “pittance.”
But for the average person, even just $100,000 is a ton of money, which is probably why people (including Lakers players) love watching fans attempt MGM Big Shot Jackpot halfcourt shot at Staples Center during the team’s games, even if such heaves rarely find the bottom of the net.
One of those rare makes occured Sunday, however, when SpaceX employee, Lakers fan and part-time bounty hunter Suni Strong nailed the shot and won $100,000, an outcome he told Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group he never doubted even before he stepped onto the floor:
“When I first walked in I said have my check ready,” he said. “I knew I was going to make it. I had to.”
Asked if he called “bank,” Strong replied, “Why would I do that? I called money.”
Strong not calling bank won’t affect how much new money is now going into his bank account, and the Palmdale native told Oram he got something more than money, too.
“I’m a hometown hero now,” he said. “It was Paul George.”
Strong immediately pointed to the Lakers bench after making the shot, and received a fist-bump from Julius Randle who ran over. Staples Center went into a frenzy, which caught head coach Luke Walton’s attention.
“I didn’t know it was $100,000,” Walton said. “I saw the shot go in and heard the place go nuts. Good for him. It’s a good sign. I feel like if we looked up some stats, I feel like most times, even when I played here, if a fan hit that shot, we won the game.”
The Lakers later confirmed Walton’s inkling was correct. The team is 7-0 in such games and have won by an average of 13 points.
While Strong was surely being at least partially facetious, but he has now officially made more money from the Lakers than George has, at least until George joins the Lakers in free agency this summer should he choose to do so, as has been frequently rumored.
George would shatter Strong’s earnings in his first few weeks as a Laker, but still, $100,000 for one shot is nothing to sneeze at, so for now Strong can take the title of Palmdale’s favorite son.
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