Who Are The Highest Paid NBA Stars Of All Time?

Kobe Bryant
via Erik Drost / CC-BY-2.0

Basketball and especially the NBA is a very lucrative business. Generating billions of dollars annually for the owners and the players, and the wage bill for the players reflects this.

Basketball is the world’s highest paying sport, with huge contracts being signed that dwarf even golf, soccer, and American football. 

The contracts coupled with endorsement deals by sportswear manufacturers and even fashion labels can make a professional basketball player very, very rich even after they stop playing at the highest level or retire due to age or injury and settle into playing blackjack online for fun.

Many young people look at the money and decide they want to be a professional basketball player to get the fast cars, mansions, and lifestyle but that is not enough of a reason.

You need to have a love for the sport and passion no matter how talented you are, the same with any professional sports money cannot be your only motivation to succeed. 

As with all sports, there are industries that are supported by them directly or indirectly. Catering firms and betting sites like an online casino can make huge sums of money from the NBA and the superstars that provide us during the season with the entertainment that we enjoy so much. 

Here is a list of the highest-paid contracts signed and career earning in the NBA to date, the numbers are staggering.

The Best Paid Players of all Time in the NBA

Kevin Garnett
via Michael E. Lee / CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Kevin Garnett: The former NBA player starred in 21 sessions of the National Basketball Association with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtic, Brooklyn Nets and finally ending his professional career back at the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016. Rated as one of the best defensive players and power forwards of all time. He won both the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the Defensive Player of the Year, something not many players have ever done, showing his value and versatility in the game. Along with his success came large contracts and endorsements that have made $334 million over his illustrious career. 
  • Kobe Bryant: Without a doubt one of the best-known players in the National Basketball Association to grace the court. Kobe Bryant spent his 20-year professional career playing with the Los Angeles Lakers and was once described by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as “one of the greatest players in the history of our game”. Respected by fans and players alike throughout the game, his life was tragically cut short on the 26th January 2020 in the Santa Monica mountain range due to poor flight conditions. The private helicopter accident also claimed the lives of his daughter, seven other passengers, and also the pilot.

During his glittering career, Kobe Bryant earned a lot of money from basketball, and his overall fame making him the second-highest-paid NBA player with a career total of $323 million by the time of his death.

  • Shaquille O’Neal: At 7 feet and one-inch tall Shaq as he is usually known was not just a giant on the court but made a huge presence with his basketball skills. Winning the National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player in the year 2000, also winning the NBA title four times and three All-Star MVPs. Playing for the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Boston Celtics over a glittering 19-year professional career. Shaquille O’Neal reportedly made a staggering $286 million in contracts alone. Now he has a career in media commentating and has even starred in commercials and movies.
LeBron James
via Keith Allison / CC-BY-2.0
  • LeBron James: Often compared to Michael Jordan, LeBron James is one of the only players on this list and is still playing in the National Basketball Association League. Still, at his peak aged 36 years old and showing no signs of slowing down, he signed a new deal with the Los Angeles Lakers worth $154 million for the next 4 years in 2018. A professional career that has seen him play with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, again for the Cavaliers, and finally for the Los Angeles Lakers his career has seen him win 4 NBA titles, 4 NBA finals MVP titles, and the coveted National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player 4 times also. He also played for the All-Stars 17 times. Lebron James has had contracts worth over $270 million and this should make him a very happy man when he eventually retires.
  • Dirk Nowitzki: Born in Germany in 1978 he is considered to be the greatest European player of all time. Playing a remarkable 21-year career with the Dallas Mavericks becoming a National Basketball Association champion once, being awarded the Most Valuable Player in 2007 and NBA Finals MVP in 2011. His 21-year career at the Dallas Mavericks makes him the only player in NBA history to have played for only one professional club. To mark his legacy he is the highest scorer for the Mavericks and has earned a cool $250 million alone from contracts during his tenure.
  • Tim Duncan: “The Big Fundamental” as he is affectionately referred to by his friends and colleagues is regarded as the best power forward of all time within the NBA. Starting his athletic career swimming he was late to playing basketball, his swimming career was cut short by Hurricane Hugo which destroyed the only Olympic-sized pool he had any access to for training and practice in the U.S. Virgin Islands. After picking up basketball and having a great time in the college leagues he was selected in the 1997 draft to play for the San Antonio Spurs and after an illustrious 19-year career with the Spurs winning 5 NBA titles, Most Valuable Player awards twice went on to become assistant manager of the San Antonio Spurs.

In his playing career, he earned an incredible $242 million during his 19 years at the San Antonio Spurs, he is ranked still after his retirement in 2016 in the top 20 players of all time.

  • Chris Bosh: Unfortunately a career cut short due to ill-health at the age of 31 years old, he retired from the Miami Heat due to blood clots in 2016 after helping the Heats to two NBA titles, and with the Toronto Raptors previously he collected five All-Star berths. He was so well respected by players and the Miami Heat that upon retirement his number would also be retired out of respect. He still is receiving a salary even without playing from the Heats until 2022 due to his commitment to the club. His career earning from contracts alone will be in excess of $239 million.

No List Would be Complete Without MJ

Michael Jordan
via Gapvenezia / CC BY-SA 3.0

An honorable mention goes to Michael Jordan who is arguably the most famous basketball player in the world. His career was in a time when the money was not at today’s standards but he still made over $100 million in contracts. 

His fame and the endorsements with Nike have made him the richest sportsman in history, earning him an estimated fortune of over $1.6 billion according to Forbes Magazine. And still considered the greatest professional basketball player the world has ever seen.  

Conclusion

Basketball may be the most lucrative sport for players in the world but not everybody has the talents that the top players have. Regardless of talent, it is still a sport enjoyed all over the world by millions of people, and who knows, you could be the next big thing and make hundreds of millions like your heroes.

If however, playing basketball is not your thing then you can always enjoy a flutter while watching the match with your friends on a casino website to add to the excitement.