After dropping their breakdown of the "Most Valuable NBA Teams", Forbes releases their list of "NBA's Highest Paid Players" ... and Kobe Bryant tops the list.
According to Forbes.com, the 10 highest-paid players in the NBA will collectively earn $340 million this year alone, through salary and endorsements, with big-market players the most dominant: Seven of the top 10 suit up in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, while two others hail from sunny, no-income-tax Miami.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant leads the list, as he's expected to make $59.8 million in salary and endorsements this year. His salary of $27.8 million is $7 million higher than any other player in the league.
Yea, it's a lot. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement limits individual player salaries to 35% of the team salary cap, which is $58 million this year. But players can also sign deals that are 105% of their previous salary even if it exceeds the cap. Bryant's case is expceptional because he is in his 17th season with the same team at 34 years old and is still playing at an exceptionally high level. The result: Bryant has signed a series of maximum level contracts with the Lakers.
Kobe will also earn an estimated $32 million, annually, from off the court endorsement deals and business ventures. His portfolio incldues deals with Nike, Coca-Cola (Sprite), Turkish Air, Mercedes-Benz and memorabilia firm Panini. Nike, however, makes up the bulk of his sponsorship income, due to the popularity of his sneaker in China.
The Miami Heat's LeBron James comes in at #2 with annual earnings of $57.6 million. His contract will bring him $17.6 million this season -- it could've been more, but he inked a smaller deal to sign with the Heat and join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to earn his first NBA title. Off the court, however, he's making big bucks... $40 million to be exact. His sponsors include global titans Nike, Coca-Cola, Samsung and McDonald’s. Audemars Piguet, Dunkin’ Donuts, State Farm and Upper Deck are also part of James’ endorsement portfolio.
The third highest paid is the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, who will rake in $32.4 million. The young basketball star's income skyrocketed this season in the first year of his five-year, $95 million contract extension with the Chicago Bulls. He will earn 16.4 million, while off the court, he'll take in another $16 million due to a 13-year, $185 million dead with Adidas.
The top 10 is as follows. To read a breakdown of their earnings, visit Forbes.com.
1) Kobe Bryant $59.8 million
2) Lebron James $57.6 million
3) Derrick Rose $32.4 million
4) Dwayne Wade $30.2 million
5) Kevin Durant $29.7 million
6) Carmelo Anthony $28.4 million
7) Amar'e Stoudemire $27.9 million
8) Dwight Howard $26.5 million
9) Chris Paul $24.8 million
10) Pau Gasol $21.5 million