LeBron James is the highest earning National Basketball Association (NBA) player for the sixth-straight year.
The Los Angeles Laker will earn a record-breaking US$92 million in salary and endorsements combined for the 2019 to 2020 season. This represents the highest pay-out for an active basketball player.
When broken down, James earns US$37.4 million in salary with an additional US$55 million coming from his numerous endorsement deals. Nike is his biggest sponsor, paying out more than US$30 million annually to the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player who acts as front man for the company and their hugely successful shoe line partnership. Sneaker deals are often the most lucrative endorsements for NBA players and usually represent the bulk of their earnings, according to Forbes.
However, James has successfully converted his talent and mass appeal into numerous multi-year deals with other major brands including Walmart, Coca-Cola and Beats By Dre. Forbes said James “signed an endorsement in 2019 with Walmart that is rooted in community work. He worked with the retail giant on its Fight Hunger. Spark Change. initiative, as well as the company’s back-to-school campaign. James is part of an investment group that owns 19 Blaze Pizza franchises across Illinois and Florida.”
The three-time NBA champion “has made more than twice as much from endorsements than his US$270 million in playing salary over his first 16 years,” Forbes said.
Coming in second-place on the list is wunderkind Stephen Curry, who pulls in US$40.2 million in salary with an additional US$45 million in endorsements. Curry’s annual salary is the most of any player in the history of the NBA. It’s arguably a well-deserved transaction for the player who won two MVP Awards while leading the Golden State Warriors to three NBA titles in four seasons between 2015 and 2018.
The athletes completing the top ten are Kevin Durant $38.2 in million salary to $35 million in endorsements; Russell Westbrook $38.5 million to $18 million; James Harden $38.2 million to $17 million; Kyrie Irving $31.7 million to $20 million; Klay Thompson $32.7 million to $20 million; Chris Paul $38.5 million to $8 million; Giannis Antetokounmpo $25.8 million to $20 million and Damian Lillard $29.8 million to $14 million.
The NBA’s ten highest-paid players will earn a combined $600 million in salaries and endorsements this year.