The graph shows the top-ten NBA players in terms of earnings (salary & endorsement deals) in 2016. LeBron James is the top-earning player in the National Basketball Association in 2016 with a salary of 23 million U.S. dollars and around 71 million U.S. dollars in income from endorsement deals.
Highest paid NBA players – additional information
NBA players have two main sources of revenues: salary from the team and endorsements. NBA players not only have deals with sports brands such as Nike and Adidas, but also with brands such as Coca-Cola, Panini, Kia Motors, Red Bull, to name a few. Shoe deals are particularly profitable for NBA players. Michael Jordan, for example, still profits from endorsements, as its signature shoes have a large share of the basketball shoe market.
Thanks to endorsements, Miami Heat’s LeBron James is, by far, the highest-paid NBA player in 2016. During that year, James’ earnings stood at 94 million U.S. dollars, and about 75 percent of his earnings were generated from endorsements. LeBron James is the third most valuable sports athlete brand in the world as well. Nike, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors are a few of James’ partners. Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant is the second highest-paid NBA player, with a salary of 20.2 million U.S. dollars and 36 million U.S. dollars in income from endorsement deals. Durant has endorsement deals with Sonic, Panini and Nike, along with other companies.
As of 2016, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant had the third highest earnings in the NBA, and endorsements accounted for half of Bryant’s earnings. The Lakers’ star had the highest salary in the NBA in 2015/2016 – 25 million U.S. dollars. Bryant, the third leading scorer in the NBA history, retired in 2016 after playing 20 years for the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite Bryant’s high salary, the Lakers do not have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA. The team spent 76 million U.S. dollars in player expenses (salaries) during the 2014/2015. In comparison, the top-spender in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets, spent 99 million U.S. dollars on player salaries during the same season. LeBron James has the second highest salary in the NBA in 2016 – 23 million U.S. dollars – closely followed by New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony with 22.9 million U.S. dollars.