First, let’s establish a fact that’s known by pretty much everyone. The sporting industry is money, plain and simple. To put it in another way. The sport is equivalent to honey, while the affluent people of the world are the bees. Tons, tons of money is invested into sports. Who benefits from this the most? The athletes.
All these athletes have worked their socks off to get to where they are. The general public sometimes doesn’t necessarily understand the sacrifices that these athletes have to make and the sacrifices that they have been making throughout the course of their career. Oh and let’s not forget their talent. If being that good was so easy, they wouldn’t be paid the way they are being paid today. It’s a simple principle actually; low supply and high demand. Add to this the entertainment and business potential of sports and voila!
The NBA, along with the NFL, are the two most popular sporting leagues in the USA. So the athletes have to be paid accordingly too, right? Oh, one more thing. Salary is just one source of their income, while off-court activities such as brand endorsements is another very crucial source of income for them.
Well, we know that the juice lies in the figures, so let’s get to that.
Here is the list of the top 10 highest earning NBA players in 2018
10. Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers, Earnings: $30.6 million per year)
Kyrie Irving is one of the best point-guards in the NBA, right now. The 25-year old is one of the youngest players in the NBA to stack up such a strong financial base for himself. But to be frank, his salary perse, isn’t even among the top 20 in the NBA. The $18 million salary of his, is very ably supported by the off-field activities that he is involved in. To be precise, he racks up another $13 million from other endorsements. So that total, of approximately $30 million a year, makes him one of the highest earning athletes in the NBA.
9. Chris Paul (L.A Clippers, Earnings: $30.9 million per year)
Chris Paul is nearly old-enough to be called a veteran of the sport. His contributions to the L.A Clippers franchise is irrevocable. CP3 makes most of his money by playing. To be frank, the $22 million that he earns by playing itself, is quite a hefty sum on its own. In addition to this, he makes nearly $8 million per year through endorsements. If you add up the exact figures, his total earnings surpass that of Kyrie Irving’s by just a little.
8. Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks, Earnings: $32.6 million per year)
‘Melo’ has been a humble servant for the franchise, New York Knicks for nearly a decade now. The rookie who made a name for himself at Denver and then moved on to the New York Knicks in 2011, is today, among the highest paid players in the NBA, in terms of just salary. If you are one for facts, well, he is paid the 5th highest salary, which is nearly $24.5 million. The man keeps his back account ticking by earning somewhere around the $8 million mark, additionally from endorsements.
7. Derrick Rose (New York Knicks, Earnings: $35.3 million per year)
Involuntarily, the career of this very promising point-guard, who won the MVP in the 2010-2011 reason took many u-turns. One injury after another, one injury after another and Derrick Rose has been unable to fulfil his potential. In 2016, he made the switch from Chicago Bulls to the New York Knicks, where his salary amounts to approximately $21.3 million. He is still quite young, just 28 years old and hopefully this switch allows him to reach heights that are expected of him. His salary may not be in the category of ‘ 10 highest paid salaries’ in the NBA but what adds to his wealth are his brand endorsements that come up to nearly $14 million.
6. Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls, Earnings: $36.2 million per year)
Dwyane Wade was part of the ‘Big Three’ in Miami, when they won four finals. In 2016, he made the switch from Miami to the Chicago Bulls. The shooting guard has won almost all that’s there to win, individual awards, team awards you name it. There’s little doubt that the 35 year old will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, sometime in the future. He stands 8th on the list of highest paid athletes in the NBA, in terms of salary. What amount gave him this spot? $23.2 million annually. He keeps busy off-court as well, racking up nearly $13 million in endorsements.
5. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder, Earnings: $41.5 million per year)
Mr. Triple Double, naturally expects a lot of zeros in his salary. Of course, in a positive context. In his rookie years, nobody believed that he would get this good. Today, he is a point-guard, one of the most multi-asseted players in the league but initially, it was defensive game that got scouts interested in him. He is a boy, who’s from humble origins who’s made it big in life. Today, he racks up $26 million per year, as a salary only. Add to that the $15 million in endorsements and you get the figure shown above.
4. James Harden (Houston Rockets, Earnings: $46.5 million per year)
Money does not ‘Fear the Beard’. The Houston Rockets point-guard’s career took off as soon as he left playing second-fiddle to Russell Westbrook at Oklahoma City Thunder. For a couple of years now, he has been one of the candidates for the MVP. So how much does a potential MVP get paid? Well, if you just look at salary that’s about $26.5 million. And if you then add up the endorsements of $20 million, that becomes $46.5 million per year.
3. Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors, Earnings: $47.1 million per year)
Okay, get ready, you guys are in for a shock. The 2014-2015 MVP gets a salary of just $12.1 million! So how is he still 3rd on this list? Endorsements. Massive endorsements. JPMorgan Chase, Vivo, Under Armour are just a couple of examples of the names of companies that he is now working with. If you just look at his salary, he is actually nowhere to be seen on the highest earnings list. But thanks to endorsements, he is nailing threes everywhere, on court and off-court.
2. Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors, Earnings: $62.5 million per year)
The ‘Durantula’ made the ambitious decision of leaving Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, in favour of the successive NBA finalists, the Golden State Warriors. By doing so, he made it quite clear what he wanted. He wanted a ring, something that’s alluded his career for quite sometime now. He is up-there, with the best of the best playing in the league today. When he made the move to the Golden State Warriors, his salary too, saw an increase in nearly $6 million. Out of the $62.5 million that he earns per year, $26.5 million is from his salary, while the other $36 million comes from endorsements. Nike, NBA 2K, BBVA are some of his endorsements.
1. Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers, Earnings: $86 million per year)
Since the Black Mamba’s retirement nobody has come close to Lebron James. That’s true for both: his in-game prowess and off-field success. For three years now, he has been the highest-earning basketballer in the NBA. Three years ago, it was Kobe who held that title. He earns $20 million more than Kevin Durant, who is second on this last. That’s quite unbelievable. His salary, is the highest in the league. A sum of $31 million per year. The brand endorsements and tie-ups that he has managed to get under his belt contribute to an additional $55 million, every year. The man’s smashing records everywhere! Unreal.
The figures that these athletes earn are extraordinary. No wonder that there are so many NBA athletes constantly appearing on the ‘Forbes Highest Earning Athletes’ list. Why? Well, there’s just a lot of money that’s being pumped into the NBA. Simple as that.