Forbes has released their annual list of the highest-paid NBA players of the year. Where do LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant rank?
Starring in the NBA is an incredibly lucrative profession with salaries that often top $30 million for the best players in the league, and expensive endorsement deals layered on top. Each year, Forbes does their best to compile estimates for each player’s yearly earnings and rank the richest of the richest.
The 2021 list is out and there are precious few surprises, with familiar names like Kevin Durant (No. 3) and Stephen Curry (No. 2) holding down the top spot. The list is especially interesting for the dynamics of endorsement deals and the way they can change the pecking order. For example, Forbes’ estimates that Giannis will make nearly four times as much in endorsements this year ($27 million versus $7 million). Giannis is also the only player outside the top three who is estimated to make more in endorsements than he will from his NBA contract.
But all those numbers look increasingly silly when you scroll to the top.
LeBron James is holding down the top spot
Unsurprisingly, LeBron is ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ list. Curry’s salary for the season is actually higher ($34.4 million to $31.4 million) but LeBron’s endorsements and outside income paces the field. According to Forbes’ he could earn as much as $10 million this year just from the release of Space Jam 2 and his total earnings for the year are expected to near $100 million. His estimated endorsement earnings are more than twice as large as his NBA salary. By their math, he’s also approaching $1 billion in career earnings.
There are plenty of other fun nuggets to be found on the list, including a player who won’t be playing at all this season, a trio who happen to be on the same team and just two players who are under the age of 30. Check out the entire list here.