In a professional American sport where there is a bounty of riches, one thing has been a constant, and that is the salaries of the NBA stars have skyrocketed. With a new media rights deal set to kick in from the 2025/26 season, players salaries will only continue to soar. To be honest, I can’t even tell you how I would even spend $1 million a year (responsibly) much less $25 million, but I’m sure as one’s annual earnings grows, so does their lifestyle.
Some of the NBA’s Highest-Earners
While NBA assistant coaches can command a salary of $1 million or above, this is dwarfed by some of the game’s leading lights on the court who have penned mega contract deals. The highest-paid NBA stars are unmatched when it comes to earnings.
Of course, there are a dizzying array of sponsorships and endorsements that need to be factored in, but let’s run through some of the highest-paid NBA players since 2000.
LeBron James (LA Lakers)
Arguably the GOAT (Greatest of all Time), LeBron James continues to tear things up in the autumn of his years on the floor. Last year, James penned a two-year contract worth $97.1m, and he added another memorable footnote to his career by becoming the first active NBA player to accumulate $1 billion in earnings.
James is thought to earn $75m from sponsors and other royalties. Among his endorsements, includes AT&T, Beats, Pepsi, and Nike, with the latter contributing 40% of his off-court earnings.
Off the court, James has been actively pursuing his other business interests, including a media production company, and he has also acquired a small stake in a Major League Pickleball franchise, so he has plenty to keep himself occupied when he eventually calls time on his career.
Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Currently, Steph Curry is the highest-earning NBA star, pulling in just over $48m a year. The Golden State Warriors has generated the NBA’s highest salary for the sixth straight season, and he is the NBA’s equivalent of Lionel Messi. A shoulder injury has limited Curry’s involvement recently, as he has averaged just over 23 points per game, and he is 34.6 percent shooting from three. Despite the Warriors’ downturn in form, Curry will still be instrumental in the second half of the season as they bid to reach the playoffs once again.
The Warriors are intent on creating another dynasty, but they find themselves lagging in the betting markets, as they are trading at around 8/1 with bookmakers to retain the NBA title. Nevertheless, those looking to place NBA wagers can do so at some of the finest betting sites around the world, like Palmerbet, where punters can even collect a Palmerbet bonus code once signed up.
Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers)
The late Kobe Bryant was one of the undisputed kings of the game during his heyday, and he also pulled in some sizeable paychecks. At one point, he was making around $35m per season, and he earned around $350m through sponsorships alone. Among the most notable ones were McDonald’s, Lenovo, and Turkish Airlines.Before his career took off in 1996, Bryant was signed up by Adidas, and his six-year contract was worth $48m.
Rounding out the top five are a pair of 1996 superstars Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant.
AI went 1st overall and commanded a ten-year $50M Reebok deal, while Kobe despite falling to 13th managed to get a six-year $48M Adidas contract.
— Kicks (@kicks) June 23, 2022
Shaquille O’Neal (Miami Heat)
In the early 2000s, Shaquille O’Neal, who played for Miami Heat, constantly jostled with Kevin Garnett to be the NBA’s highest-earning player.
And O’Neal, who earned almost $300m from playing, was well supplemented with endorsement deals that amounted to around $200m. Now, O’Neal, who does a lots of punditry work with TNT, is thought to pick up around $60m a year from endorsements and other business endeavors, so he is still a bit of a mover and shaker by all accounts.