The following graph shows the average team payroll from 1990-2012, adjusted for inflation using 2013 dollars. Also shown is the team that won that year's championship and their payroll.
There are a couple of particularly interesting things in this data:
- The Bulls had an extremely high payroll in their final two years of the second three-peat. This was due primarily to Michael Jordan's salary at the time ($30mm in 96 and $33mm in 97). MJ's salary alone accounted for about a third of the team payroll.
- Teams that spend more tend to win more. Only 6 of the 23 teams listed here had below average payrolls. This is to be expected to a degree since top talent typically costs more.
- From 1990-2012 there were 23 NBA Champions shared among just 8 different teams. Parity is a thing in the NFL, but not in the NBA.