Who doesn’t like to talk about money? It is almost impossible for me to turn on my television without hearing a news story about how much money a major athlete or celebrity earned over the past year. The huge sums of money these individuals bring in every year is simply staggering and makes the average joe wonder where it is all coming from.
For athletes, the most commonly publicized source of earnings reported on is contract value. Sports news outlets are constantly reporting on mega-contracts being offered to sport superstars and new records for position contracts are broken seemingly everyday. This was an especially popular talking point this NBA off-season as the salary cap increased considerably due to the influx of new television contract money and super-contracts were being given out what seemed to be hourly. While these new contracts were record-setting, the athletes with the highest net worth numbers do not rely solely on their contracts to make them wealthy. These players look to increase their earnings off the court, as well, and doing so through endorsements is one of the most lucrative ways to do so.
Big name companies are always looking for ways to push their products and reach their intended audiences. Through endorsements, they can have the public’s favorite players give their approval of a product or company and this, in turn, should lead to more sales. Companies understand the star power of professional athletes and are constantly fighting and bidding on their services. So which NBA players have been able to parlay their on the court success into off the court earnings? Let’s take a look at the top 5 NBA players with the highest endorsement earnings.
5: Derrick Rose
Although Derrick Rose has seen his career on the court somewhat derailed by injury over the past couple years, this hasn’t stopped him from earning money off the court. His $14 million endorsement earnings for 2016 puts him in the Top 5 of our list. Sponsorship deals with big names like Powerade and Addias have been able to keep his earnings high as he looks to get his playing career back to his previous MVP caliber.
4: James Harden
The bearded phenom pushes his way on to the list after years of All-Star play and a unique image that brands love to sell to their audience. Companies such as Addias, Beats by Dr. Dre, and NBA 2K are banging down Harden’s door to put that beard front and center on their next TV ad. With earnings like this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see what the hairless face of James Harden actually looks like.
3: Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba doesn’t play any games when it comes to earnings. Kobe Bryant has never been shy about wanting to be paid what he is worth and he continually held one of the highest contracts in the NBA before his retirement earlier this year. His on the court contract never stopped him from looking to increase his earnings, though, with brands like Alibaba and Nike by his side, I think he will enjoy retirement just fine.
2: Kevin Durant
Now one of the most polarizing players in the NBA, Kevin Durant it is hard to go a day without hearing Kevin Durant’s name. However, this doesn’t seem to have hurt his marketability. Nike, Beats by Dr. Dre, and Sonic are still by this superstar’s side and are making sure he is taken care outside his new contract.
1: LeBron James
Honestly, is anyone surprised? The King has been a marketing icon since he first step foot on an NBA court. Companies, like Nike, have signed him to ‘lifetime” contracts as they understand how powerful of a superstar he truly is. Winning a championship for Cleveland during the 2015-16 season only helped to build on LeBron’s legacy and his endorsement partners have another exciting reason to have him as part of their teams.