Star players in the NBA
Since its founding days in 1946 the National Basketball Association (NBA) has grown into a billion dollar business with total league revenue today at almost 6 billion U.S. dollars. The NBA has developed into a global brand and is widely recognized as the world’s best and most competitive league. Some former and current players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have become global sports icons due to their on-court success and strong marketing.
Michael Jordan, who won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and scored more than 32,000 points in regular season play, and turned his name into one of the most iconic sports brands in the world with the easy recognizable Jumpman logo. According to SportsOneSource, Nike, including the subsidiary Jordan brand, had a share of 93 percent of the U.S. basketball shoe market in 2015. Royalties from the brand bring in a reported 60 million U.S. dollars annually for Michael Jordan.
LeBron James, arguably the best player in the NBA today, had already scored a total of more than 23,000 points by the age of 29 (as of November 2014) and won two championships. He has, in his eleven years in the NBA so far, never averaged less than 20 points per game and scored 2,108 points on average per season over his career. Prior to the 2013/14 NBA season, LeBron James is currently ranked 7th on the all-time scoring list of the NBA. In 2016, LeBron James' signature NBA sneaker from Nike generated approximately 150 million dollars in sales.
In comparison, the signature shoes of Kobe Bryant, who also is under contract with Nike, generated about 18 million U.S. dollars in sales in the U.S. in 2016. Bryant though is vastly popular in Asia, especially China, and his signature shoes, as well as his jersey sell well there. Bryant, who has played his whole professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers, has won five NBA championships and has scored more than 31,600 points in NBA regular season games, earning him third place on the career scoring list.