The NBA season came to a close earlier on in June as the Denver Nuggets secured the franchise’s first ever championship. Led by star-man Nikola Jokic, they defeated the Miami Heat 4-1 in the finals as the Serbian Centre was named Finals MVP.
Home to the best basketball talents the world has to offer, the NBA unsurprisingly houses some of the highest paid athletes on the planet. Last season’s MVP winner Joel Embiid doesn’t even break the top 25 highest paid players with his $33.6m salary. Looking ahead at Embiid’s NBA MVP odds for 2024, Louisiana sportsbooks have him priced at +650.
With sponsorships adding even more to their eyewatering salaries, these players have generational wealth. Michael Jordan was one of the first athletes across all sports to transform into a business maverick and create a global brand off his name.
The iconic Air Jordan trainer, first released by Nike in 1985, makes the sportswear company billions of dollars a year alone. Jordan forayed into business from the get-go and now has a number of huge investments, including his ownership of the Charlotte Hornets until recently.
While there may never be a deal as influential as Jordan’s with Nike (there’s even a movie about it), plenty of players since have taken a leaf out of his book and increased their wealth accordingly. Let’s take a look at the top three highest paid players in the NBA in 2023.
There are not going to be many surprises at all on this list and the (arguably) greatest shooter in NBA history being at the top is no shock at all. Curry joined the Golden State Warriors as the seventh overall pick in 2009 and his game has gone from strength to strength since.
He earned a salary of just over $48m in 2023 and that number will increase to $51m for the 2024 season. His salary is more than that of anyone else in the league and as the Warriors’ talisman there is no doubt he is worth every penny to Steve Kerr’s team.
In addition to his monster salary, Steph also has brand deals with Chase, Nissan Motor, Rakuten and Infiniti. However, his most prosperous deal is the one he signed with Under Armour.
In March 2023, the four-time NBA Champion was named president of the company in an extension reported to be worth an incredible $1 billion. The deal will last beyond his playing career as the brand look to grow the apparel division Curry Brand.
The argument for who the NBA GOAT is could be had for hours, but unanimously fans can agree that LeBron James is more than just in the conversation. The LA Lakers forward is perhaps the most famous player of all time with his reach far surpassing just the sport of basketball.
With four championships, four finals MVP awards and four season MVP awards to his name, it is again no surprise to see a name like his in this list. He is currently on a salary of $44.4m with the Lakers which will be upped to $46.6m next season.
However, while Curry may have the highest salary in the league, LeBron’s sponsorships are otherworldly. He boasts deals with AT&T, Beats Electronics, GMC, KIA Motors, Nike, RIMOWA, Walmart, Ruffles, Tonal and Mountain Dew.
These deals added a further $75m to his yearly salary and his 20-year relationship with Nike is second only to Michael Jordan’s as the most successful in the brand’s history.
Entering the league as the 2nd overall pick in 2007, KD joined the Seattle Supersonics, now known to us as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two championship rings and NBA Finals MVP awards and one season MVP award later he is highly regarded as one of the best to ever play the game.
Now plying his trade with the Phoenix Suns, Durant is the highest paid player in the East on a salary of $44.1m. Just a hair under LeBron’s salary, the company he is in should tell you just how good he is.
However, next season he will actually leapfrog James’ salary when he is upped to $47.69m per year.
Durant, like LeBron, also has a lifetime contract with Nike and is just the third player behind he and Jordan to have secured such a deal. He also has deals with Google, Alaska Air group, Beats by Dre, American Family Insurance and BBVA to name a few.
These deals earn him an estimated $35m on top of his salary bringing his yearly earnings up to around $80m.
Durant, James, and Curry will go down in history as three of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. There is no doubt that they have earned their salary as they continue to play at the top of their game.