Magic Johnson once signed a 25 year, $25 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1981. The basketball world was in disbelief that a ball player was making a million dollars a year. What players make in 2017 would make them cringe.
The NBA has entered a dominant era in its existence. With new television and media deals, fans and money are at an all-time high for the National Basketball Association. Average role players in the NBA are making close to, and some, more than $10 million a year. Every NBA player is worth what they make just due to the fact they are in the NBA. The NBA is worth billions of dollars and the league can only hold a few hundred players total on its 30 teams.
There are 15 players on an NBA roster and the NBA salary cap in 2014 was $58.7 million. It has since changed drastically due to new television and media deals. In the 2016-2017 NBA season the cap has jumped to $94 million and it is only going up. The cap will be over $105 million in the coming years.
NBA players are worth the money they get due to the money they generate. People will always argue that players are paid too much, but per the market, they are underpaid. Even though players are making more money in today’s era compared to the past decades, some of the old guys have the most money. We will look into the seven richest NBA players ever and examine how they made so much money.
1. Michael Jordan – $1 billion
Michael Jordan still makes more money today than any athlete in the world. Jordan still makes more than $100 million a year off endorsements. MJ always made the massive sums of his money off his shoes. The NBA salaries never came close to the revenue the Nike and Jordan brand brought in for him.
Besides the Nike and Jordan brands, MJ has current notable endorsement deals with Gatorade and 2K Sports. He had countless endorsement deals during his NBA playing days. The greatest player ever has been deservedly paid.
2. Magic Johnson – $500 million
Earvin “Magic” Johnson won multiple NBA championships in Los Angeles and used it to become a business mogul. Johnson used his fame, wealth and success to become a successful businessman. He is known to have invested in many Starbucks, Burger Kings, and he has invested money in the Lakers and Dodgers.
3. Shaquille O’Neal – $350 million
Superman, the Big Cactus, or the Big Aristotle, or whatever nickname Shaq wanted to give himself, helped turn Shaq into a very wealthy man. Establishing early dominance in college and then for the Orlando Magic made Shaq a star. Then becoming a four-time champion (3 with LA, 1 with Miami) made him a legend.
Bouncing around to many teams after Miami such as Phoenix, Cleveland, and Boston only helped Shaq further expand himself as a businessman. Retired from the NBA nowadays, Shaq is still bringing his net worth up.
4. LeBron James – $300 million
Imagine signing a 90-million-dollar deal with Nike before ever having played an NBA game. The King did just that, and he has the highest growth potential of anyone on this list. As a businessman, LeBron is just getting started. From winning Cleveland a championship, to putting hundreds of people through college, television shows, movie appearances, and shoe sales, LeBron is on his way to becoming a billionaire one day.
When all is said and done with his NBA career; Lebron will have made hundreds of millions from the NBA and endorsements. You know LeBron is motivated to keep growing his empire.
5. Kobe Bryant – $280 million
When you win five championships for the city of Los Angeles, you are going to be glorified. Kobe retired from the NBA in 2016 with five championships, a couple hundred million and more money coming from Nike. He has a lucrative deal where his apparel and shoes are very sought after.
Kobe is also a businessman with many investments, so do not be surprised if his net worth keeps growing, despite not being a player anymore.
6. Hakeem Olajuwon – $200 million
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon did not play basketball until the age of 17. Today, he has a net worth of over 200 million dollars. The Dream has a real estate business where he does cash only purchases. Hakeem is of Muslim faith and it is against Islamic Law to pay interest.
Hakeem went from his home, Nigeria, to the University of Houston to play college basketball. He quickly became a star and the Houston Rockets took him number one in the 1984 NBA Draft. His skill in basketball has given him a platform where his voice and opinions are heard. Olajuwon consistently tries to make the lives of others better, especially in his home country of Nigeria.
7. Tim Duncan – $190 million
A five-time champion, Tim Duncan is one of the most respected NBA players ever. If Duncan cared for popularity and money, his net worth could be much higher. He was a top player in the NBA for two decades and never wanted all the attention on him. You cannot ask for much more than winning five rings and finishing your career as arguably the best ever at your position.