Global sports stars can earn eye-watering amounts of money, and the world’s top basketball players are no exception to that rule. Top NBA players are able to build up a celebrity status alongside their playing careers, with the most famous earning as much from endorsements as they do from their salaries. This is undoubtedly a legacy of the legendary Michael Jordan, the 6-time NBA Champion’s deal with Nike was unprecedented at the time and paved the way for many of the endorsements the players below currently enjoy!
5. James Harden – $55.2million
Coming in at 5th is the Houston Rockets shooting guard, James Harden. Harden is widely regarded as the best shooting guard in the league and was named the NBA MVP at the end of the 2018 season.
Harden is in a bit of an outlier in the highest paid NBA players because the vast majority of his income comes from salary and not endorsements. Harden has just received a $9million pay rise and takes home a salary of $38.2million, with endorsements making up the remaining $17million.
4. Russel Westbrook – $56.5million
Just edging Harden into 4th place is his Houston teammate, Russel Westbrook. The experienced point guard is a 9-time NBA All-Star and 2-time MVP in All-Star games as well as the 2017 NBA MVP.
The former Oklahoma City player is actually the second highest paid player in terms of salary after signing a five-year contract worth a total $207million with the Rockets. Like his Houston teammate, Westbrook’s endorsement earnings of $18million are dwarfed by others on this list and leave him further down it than he otherwise would be.
3. Kevin Durant – $73.2million
Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant slots in as the 3rd highest paid NBA player in the 2020/2021 season. Durant is a 2-time NBA Champion, winning the game MVP on both occasions and 2014 NBA MVP. The former Golden State Warrior is also a regular fixture in the NBA All-Star game, featuring in 10 consecutive seasons between 2010 and 2019.
Durant’s salary of $38.2million is actually lower than Westbrook’s and identical Harden’s, but his $35million per year in endorsements puts him comfortably ahead in 3rd place. Durant as endorsement deals with the likes of sportwear giant Nike, sports drink behemoths Gatorade, and video game publisher 2K Sports amongst many others.
2. Stephen Curry – $85.2million
Point guard Steph Curry has represented the Golden State Warriors his whole career winning 3 NBA Championships as well as playing in 6 consecutive NBA All-Star games. Curry was also voted NBA MVP in 2 consecutive years back in 2015 and 2016.
Curry is one of the biggest names ever to come out of the NBA and that is reflected in both his salary and yearly endorsements. The 3-time NBA Champion’s salary of $40.2million is the highest in the NBA and numerous endorsements with the likes of sportswear brand Under Armour and golfing giant Callaway.
Stephen Curry is one of the most attractive NBA players.
1. LeBron James – $92.4million
Comfortably the highest paid player on this list is LA Lakers small forwards LeBron James. The 35-year-old is widely seen as one of the greatest players ever to play the game and holds 3 NBA Championships a long with a staggering 4 NBA MVP awards.
LBJ’s salary of $37.4million is actually the lowest on this top 5 list but his staggering $55million per year in endorsements places him firmly on top of this particular list. The list of endorsements James’ includes some of the biggest business in the word including McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Beats by Dre.
The current top 5 paid NBA players are among the highest paid athletes in the world, and between salaries and endorsements earn eye watering amounts of money. It remains to be seen whether the Covid-19 pandemic will affect these incomes like it has so many others, but one thing is for sure, with hugely diverse revenue streams these players will not struggle for income going forward.