The NBA caps players’ salaries at a maximum, no matter their skill. When it comes to endorsements, however, the sky’s the limit. Brand deals are where the richest professional basketball players make most of their money. According to Forbes, the NBA’s top 10 endorses earned approximately $155 million in off-court income last year alone. That’s nothing to scoff at when deals with sneaker, lifestyle, fashion and even fast food companies commonly stretch five, seven, or 10 or more years. Herein, we found the five players in today’s league who have made the most from endorsement deals.
1. Lebron James
LeBron James made $53 million in endorsements alone last year, and endorsements account for 72.1 per cent of his $452.1-million career earnings as of the end of the 2013-14 season. His most rewarding relationship, the one with Nike, began when he signed a seven-year, $90 million deal with the brand in 2003. The deal was extended in 2010 for another seven years. By 2013, his LeBron shoe sales reached approximately $300 million in retail sales across the United States, according to SportsOneSource.
2. Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba pulled in $34 million during the 2013-14 season from Nike. He initially signed on with Adidas in 1996 as a rookie, a deal which expired in 2003. Bryant then went with Nike for $45 million over five years, and re-signed in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. Along with his pay from the NBA, he has made more than $20 million every season since 2008-09, according to HoopsHype.
3. Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose signed a 13-year, $185-million shoe deal with Adidas in 2012, according to Forbes. (ESPN cites an unnamed source claiming it was a 14-year deal worth $250 million). Regardless, the relationship has moved more than $40 million of his signature shoes, netting him a cool $21 million over the 2013-14 season.
4. Kevin Durant
During the 2013 off-season, Kevin Durant signed the largest shoe deal in history—a 10-year, $300-million deal with Nike, according to ESPN. This built on his existing relationship with Nike which began in 2007. That’s when he took the brand’s seven-year, $60-million deal (with $10 million in signing bonuses) after turning down a seven-year, $70-million offer with $12 million in signing bonuses from Adidas. During the 2013-14 season, KD made a cool $14 million from Nike alone.
5. Dwyane Wade
Some of the greatest endorsements and endorsers of all time
He made $90 million just last year
Don’t blow your dough