The Richest Basketball Players in the World

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NBA players are among some of the most highly compensated athletes worldwide — but which players currently active in the league are the richest of the rich? We take a look at which NBA stars are the wealthiest athletes in the league right now.

How Much is the Entire NBA Worth?

As a whole, the franchise value of the NBA is approximately $66 billion. According to Statista, the team with the highest franchise value is the New York Knicks with a value of $5 billion USD, followed by the Golden State Warriors at $4.7 billion and the Los Angeles Lakers at $4.6 billion.

In case you were wondering how wealthy athletes and their corresponding teams compare: of the top 20 highest-earning NBA athletes, three play for the Brooklyn Nets ($2.6 billion), and two play for the Warriors. The remaining five play for the LA Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers ($1.9 billion), Washington Wizards ($1.8 billion), Phoenix Suns ($1.7 billion), and Milwaukee Bucks ($1.6 billion).

20 Richest NBA Players

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA salaries must see a 20% escrow payment in 2021, instead of the 10% they normally incurr. However, even with this salary dent, these players are still making more money than I’ll make in my entire life.

19) Damian Lillard

  • Team: Portland Trail Blazers
  • Total 2021 earnings: $39 million
  • Salary before escrow: $31.6 million
  • Salary after escrow: $25 million
  • Endorsements: $14 million
  • Net Worth: $70 million

Damian, a.k.a. Dame Time, is the highest-paid player on the Portland Trail Blazers and sits at number 19 on our list. He’s expected to make $39 million this year, though he could potentially make more money through endorsements. Damian is endorsed by several companies including Adidas, Powerade, Biofreeze, and Hulu.

He is one of two players in Trail Blazers history to become a six-time NBA All-Star. Damian is also the cover athlete for the current console generation of the basketball video game NBA 2K21.

Damian Lillard’s net worth is $70 million.

18) Klay Thompson

  • Team: Golden State Warriors
  • Total 2021 earnings: $43.3 million
  • Salary before escrow: $35.3 million
  • Salary after escrow: $28.3 million
  • Endorsements: $15 million
  • Net Worth: $60 million

Think basketball players need to actually play for their salary? Think again — Although he is still recovering from a torn ACL and a ruptured Achilles tendon and won’t be able to play until the start of the 2021-22 season, Klay is still making his $28.3 million salary. He’ll also be making approximately $15 million from endorsements this year.

Off-court, alongside soccer player Alex Morgan, motorsports competitor Travis Pastrana, and skateboarder Paul Rodriguez, Klay also founded Just Live, a CBD company aimed at providing an alternative to painkillers to people who live active lives. The company offers THC-free CBD products including roll-ons, capsules, and gummies. They’ve since expanded their products and now offer products for performance, wellness, and sleep.

Klay Thompson’s net worth is $60 million.

17) Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • Team: Milwaukee Bucks
  • Total 2021 earnings: $49 million
  • Salary before escrow: $27.5 million
  • Salary after escrow: $22 million
  • Endorsements: $27 million
  • Net Worth: $70 million

Giannis moved to the United States from Greece in 2013, and has quickly made a name for himself as a basketball superstar. This year, the ‘Greek Freak’ is expected to make more money from endorsements (an estimated $27 million) than his actual salary of $22 million. 

In December 2020, the NBA star signed a five-year $228 million deal with the NBA, and currently holds the record for the richest deal in NBA history. In 2022, Disney is expected to release a very The Blind Side-esque movie about Giannis’ life.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s net worth is $70 million.

16) Kyrie Irving

  • Team: Brooklyn Nets
  • Total 2021 earnings: $43 million
  • Salary before escrow: $31.7 million
  • Salary after escrow: $26 million
  • Endorsements: $17 million
  • Net Worth: $90 million

Kyrie, also known as the beloved Uncle Drew from the series of viral Pepsi commercials, is expected to make $43 million this year, minus around $900,000. He missed five games in January during a much-needed personal break and two while in quarantine and subsequently lost out on a small portion of his salary.

Kyrie endorses several brands, including General Mills, Aleve, and Nike, where his shoe is a top-seller. He has also worked with Feeding America and City Harvest to help communities that are in need amidst the COVID pandemic, donating over $300,000 and 250,000 meals.

Kyrie Irving’s net worth is $90 million.

15) Chris Paul

  • Team: Phoenix Suns
  • Total 2021 earnings: $40.01 million
  • Salary before escrow: $41.3 million
  • Salary after escrow: $33.1 million
  • Endorsements: $7 million
  • Net Worth: $130 million

Coming in at number nine on our list of wealthy basketball players is Chris Paul, who is expected to make just over $40 million in 2021 – $33.1 million as his salary, and around $7 million from endorsements. Chris has endorsements from Nike, State Farm, and Walt Disney, among others.

Off-court, Chris works with several nonprofits and charities including After-School All-Stars, Boys & Girls Club of America, and Girl Up. He founded his own nonprofit in 2005, the CP3 Foundation, to honor his late grandfather. Other than basketball, he also enjoys bowling and owns a franchise in the Professional Bowlers Association League called L.A.X.

Chris Paul’s net worth is $130 million.

14) Stephen Curry

  • Team: Golden State Warriors
  • Total 2021 earnings: $74.4 million
  • Salary before escrow: $43 million
  • Salary after escrow: $34.4 million
  • Endorsements: $40 million
  • Net Worth: $130 million

Steph Curry comes in at a close second, with the highest NBA salary for the fourth season in a row. He’s expected to earn around $40 million this year from endorsements with Nisan Motors, Under Armour, and Rakuten, among others. 

Aside from sports-related earnings, Curry also generates income from the companies he has invested in, including Snaptravel, an online travel booking site, Tonal, an AI-powered home workout machine, Oxigen, a beverage that assists in muscle recovery, and esports organization TSM. 

Steph Curry’s net worth is $130 million.

13) Russell Westbrook

  • Team: Washington Wizards
  • Total 2021 earnings: $58.1 million
  • Salary before escrow: $41.3 million
  • Salary after escrow: $33 million
  • Endorsements: $25 million
  • Net Worth: $170 million

As the second-highest-paid player in the NBA, Russell is going to make around $58.1 million in 2021, with more than half coming from his salary of $33 million. Before Giannis Antetokounmpo signed his five-year deal in December 2020, Russel held the record for signing the largest contract in NBA history – a five-year $205 million extension with Oklahoma City Thunder.

When he’s not on the court, this basketball player is star making millions. In 2016 he opened a car dealership in Van Nuys, California, and has since opened four more dealerships in Southern California.

Russell Westbrook’s net worth is $170 million.

12) James Harden

  • Team: Brooklyn Nets
  • Total 2021 earnings: $50 million
  • Salary before escrow: $41.2 million
  • Salary after escrow: $33 million
  • Endorsements: $17 million
  • Net Worth: $165 million
james harden 13 playing basketball for brooklyn nets

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden. (Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin)

Joining fellow Nets teammates Durant and Irving, James comes in as the fourth highest-paid NBA player but just falls short of the fourth place position here simply due to earning less from his endorsements. Still, James is expected to reel in $17 million in 2021 from his endorsements, a majority of that coming from his $14 million per year deal with Adidas, which he left Nike to pursue.

In 2020, James’ contract with the Houston Rockets was nearing an end, and he was offered a two-year $103 million extension. He turned down the offer, which initially caused confusion from fans and media, but it proved to be a smart financial decision. As Fansided reported, James turned down a guaranteed $149 million from 2022-23 to 2024-25 to potentially make $300 million from 2022-23 to 2026-27, due to the complicated politics behind NBA salary caps, the coronavirus pandemic, and Supermax contracts.

James Harden’s net worth is $165 million.

11) Dirk Nowitzki

  • Team: Dallas Mavericks
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings:
  • NBA Career Earnings: $102 million
  • Endorsements: $ 100 million ~
  • Net Worth: $200 million

Are you surprised to finally see a player from the Mavericks? Owned by Forbes no. 190th richest person, Mark Cuban, NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki has played his entire career with the Mavericks — and now, he works for the Mavericks as a special advisor and a front-office executive.

Versatile on the court, playing as a power forward, center, small forward, and excellent shooter (he made almost 88% of his free throws), he’s also had lucrative endorsements with Nike, plus investments in Tiff’s Treats, a cookie company.

Dirk Nowitzki’s net worth is $200 million.

10) Dwight Howard

  • Team: Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: Unknown
  • NBA Career Earnings: $23 million ~
  • Endorsements: $100 million ~
  • Net Worth: $200 million

Dwight Howard is an eight-time NBA All-Star & Champion, who’s basketball career has made a significant contribution to his wealth. In addition to his career on-court, Howard’s endorsed brands like Adidas, McDonald’s, Peak Sports and Pixstory, contributing about $100 million to his wealth & net worth. He’s also made investments in the mobile app Tapiture, but it’s unknown whether this has yielded any significant returns.

Did you know Howard owns 20-something snakes, and a farm where he has pigs, turkey, deer, and cows — it’s unknown if he makes money farming, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this star center found a way to monetize his love of animals.

Dwight Howard’s net worth is $200 million.

9) Hakeem Olajuwon

  • Team: Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: Unknown
  • NBA Career Earnings: $102 million
  • Endorsements: $ 100 million ~
  • Net Worth: $200 million

Hakeem Olajuwon is a Nigerian Native who’s played for Rockets and the Raptors, playing from 1984 until 2002.

Although his career outside of the NBA hasn’t always been a lucrative success (see his endorsement of Spalding’s affordable sneaker ‘the Dream’ in the 90’s), and despite being one of the best players in the league, (known for his deft offensive & defensive skills & being a leader in league rebounds during 1980 & 1990, among other things) his skill didn’t necessarily translate into brand endorsements.

However, did this stop Olajuwon from building his wealth? No, it didn’t — the 12-time NBA All-Star from investing in Houston real estate, and interestingly enough, only purchases in cash as Islamic Law forbids adherents from paying interest. His real estate profits are approximately $100 million.

Hakeem Olajuwon’s net worth is $200 million.

8) Luol Deng

  • Team: Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: Unknown
  • NBA Career Earnings: $151 million
  • Endorsements: $1.7 million
  • Net Worth: $200 million

Luol Deng is a two-time NBA All-Star, with an impressive career on the basketball court, and an even more impressive real estate portfolio.

While Deng doesn’t have the sorts of shoe or brand endorsements like others on this like including Michael Jordan, or Dwyane Wade, his fortune comes entirely from his NBA career and wise business decisions (including paid public speaking gigs, which you can currently book for an undisclosed amount).

Deng started to invest when he started to play, and his portfolio has grown since to include resorts, hotels, and residential buildings, which are worth nearly $125 million.

Luol Deng’s net worth is $200 million.

7) David Robinson

  • Team: San Antonio Spurs
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: Unknown
  • NBA Career Earnings: $114 million
  • Endorsements: $1.7 million
  • Net Worth: $200 million

David ‘the Admiral’ Robinson, was a talented Spurs’ center, whose basketball skills contributed to 62 wins with the team — and a salary increase nearly each year. This made him one of the highest paid athletes in the NBA.

Robinson used much of his salary to invest, and has reportedly made millions from these investments, and went on to start his own private equity fund, perfectly named Admiral Capital. The fund has raised over $115 million, acquired $350 million in real estate assets, with a second fund following in 2015.

Beyond real estate, Robinson is a part-owner of his one-time team, the Antonio Spurs. In 2004, he purchased a 1.88% equity stake of the team that helped launched his lucrative career.

David Robinson’s net worth is $200 million.

6) Dwayne Wade

  • Dwyane Wade $170m
  • Team: Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: Unknown
  • NBA Career Earnings: $196 million
  • Endorsements: $14 million ~
  • Net Worth: $170 million

Dwayne Wade (aka Gabrielle Union’s husband), a Chicago native, spent most of his 16-year NBA career in Miami playing for the Heat. Wade, like other athletes on this list has had more than one shoe deal, starting with Converse in 2003 where he secured a six-year making $400,000 each year, moving to Nike & the Jordan brand in 2009 where he earned $5 million each year — he made a final (for now) deal with Chinese brand Li-Ning for $60 million and a 10-year deal, and an equity stake.

He’s also invested in The Mars Reel, and is a co-founder of sock company PKWY, and a lucrative wine partnership, Wade Cellars.

Dwayne Wade’s net worth is $170 million.

5) Grant Hill

  • Team: Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: $1.975 million
  • NBA Career Earnings: $134 million
  • Endorsements: $120 million ~
  • Net Worth: $180-250 million

Grant Hill played in the NBA until 2013, where he went on to host NBA Inside Stuff on NBA TV, a broadcaster for CBS, and Turner Sport’s March Madness coverage with Jim Nantz and Bill Rafferty.

During his time on-court in the 1990’s, Hill was a popular spokesperson for Sprite — does anyone remember ‘Grant Hill Drinks Sprite?’ In 2014, he returned to commercial endorsements with features in AT&T and Microsoft ads, which also featured his wife. He also endorsed Fila, Adidas and Nike — his lifetime deal with Fila is particularly lucrative, paying him $10 million yearly.

Hill’s wealth can also be attributed to real estate investments with his company Hill Ventures. He is also co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks and is Vice Chairman of the team.

Grant Hill’s net worth is $180 million, or more.

4) Shaquille O’Neal

  • Team: Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: $60 million
  • NBA Career Earnings: $28.6 million
  • Endorsements: $200 million ~
  • Net Worth: $400 million

What couldn’t Shaq sell? Regarded as one of the best NBA players of all time, O’Neal is also a savvy businessman & spokesperson who earns nearly twice what he made during his time in the NBA.

Shaq has invested in many restaurant franchises (some he still has, and some he’s since sold) including Krispy Kreme, Sister Anne’s, Five Guys — of which he owned 144 locations, or 10% of the franchise, and a Big Chicken restaurant. If that’s not enough, he’s also made investments in Google, is a part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, and is an NBA analyst on TNT.

Shaquille O’Neal’s net worth is $400 million.

3) LeBron James

  • Team: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Total 2021 earnings: $95.4 million
  • Salary before escrow: $39.2 million
  • Salary after escrow: $31.4 million
  • Endorsements: $64 million
  • Net Worth: $500 million

For the seventh year in a row, LeBron is the NBA’s top-earning player. According to ESPN, he’s only the seventh highest-paid NBA player salary-wise, but a majority of his income for 2021 is expected to come from endorsements and memorabilia sales (a whopping $64 million).

Nike is LeBron’s most notable endorsement deal, earning him over $30 million per year. The rest of his expected endorsement income will come from his numerous other deals with companies like Walmart, Kia Motors, and Beats by Dre. LeBron had previously been endorsed by Coca-Cola, but he recently ended his 18-year relationship with the company to sign with PepsiCo as the face of their upcoming line of energy drinks.

The four-time MVP winner is also starring in Space Jam: A New Legacy, the sequel to the iconic 1996 film Space Jam, set to release this July.

via GIPHY

Along with starring in the film, LeBron also served as an executive producer, so he’s expected to earn over $10 million from the film. Other NBA guest stars include Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Kyle Kuzma, Draymond Green, and of course, the OG, Michael Jordan.

LeBron James’ net worth is $500 million.

2) Magic Johnson

  • Magic Johnson $600m
  • Team: Los Angeles Lakers
  • Total 2020/2021 Earnings: $22 million ~
  • NBA Career Earnings: $39 million
  • Endorsements: $12 million ~ (In 1992 when he left NBA)
  • Net Worth: $600 million

Think ending your career as a star NBA player means your business opportunities are over, too? Think again — Magic Johnson ended his NBA career in 1992 after being diagnosed with HIV, and went out to invest in many lucrative businesses.

For example, if you’ve ever enjoyed a caramel-macchiato-with-cold-foam while shopping, you can thank Johnson — he was the first outside owner to franchise Starbucks locations, and even went on to open locations in malls and movie theatres.

In addition to these investments, Johnson is involved in Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and had endorsements with Pepsi, Converse, and Spalding during his profitable NBA career.

Magic Johnson’s net worth is $600 million.

1) Michael Jordan

  • Team: Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards
  • Total 2021 earnings: $130 million ~ (During 97-98’)
  • NBA Career Earnings: $90 million
  • Endorsements: $1.8 billion
  • Net Worth: $2.1 billion

Michael Jordan has the honor of being one of the NBA’s highest-paid athletes — for 2 seasons of his 15-year career on the court.

Jordan had an eye for business from the start of his NBA career, and the ball player’s fortune has continued to grow from the time he hit (and left) the court.

Jordan’s built his fortune from lucrative endorsements with Nike, Hanes, and Gatorade, plus his majority ownership of the Charlotte Hornets, investments in Sportradar, the Miami Marlins, Muzik, Gigster, aXiomatic, and a part-ownership of the tequila brand Cincoro. Oh, and don’t forget Space Jam.

But what about the Netflix & ESPN docu-series, The Last Dance, you might ask? Jordan donated his earnings to different charitable causes, which reportedly netted the GOAT $3-4million dollars.

If you’re sitting at your desk, in your office, or even on your couch, you might be thinking you’ve made a terrible career choice, but don’t fret. Your odds of making it to the NBA are about 0.03% — however, you can still make money betting on basketball. It might not be a guarantee, but if you’re willing to part with a few dollars (and potentially make some) sports betting is a great way to have some fun while following your favorite sports, players, and teams.

Michael Jordan’s net worth is $2.1 billion.

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