Top 10 Richest Basketball Players
Basketball can prove to be an extremely lucrative sport if you find yourself amongst the top players in the sport. Professional leagues like the NBA pay their best players handsomely, with some of the best even leveraging their athletic success to become billionaires. Read on to learn about the top ten richest basketball players of all time.
Who Are The Richest Basketball Players?
1. Michael Jordan
With an estimated net worth of over $1.7 billion, Michael Jordan has almost double the net worth of the next player on this list (which is considerable, as that player is Lebron James). During his basketball career, Jordan accumulated a total of $94 million solely from his contracts with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. He has also had a number of lucrative endorsement deals throughout his career with companies including Nike, Gatorade, and Hanes. In 2016, Jordan became the first billionaire in basketball history. Along with being arguably the best player ever to pick up a basketball, he is an owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets franchise and owns his own shoe brand, Air Jordan, which is very popular among basketball fans. Last year alone, the Jordan shoe brand racked up $3.1 billion in sales, which was about 8% of the company’s total sales.
2. LeBron James
LeBron James is easily a top-two basketball player of all time and has a net worth of over $1 billion. LeBron is different from the other players on this list, in that he has made more money from his contracts than many of the older players on this list. LeBron has racked up nearly $400 million solely from his contracts in the NBA. However, each year, LeBron makes more money from his endorsements than he does from his contract, which is staggering. Along with his contracts, LeBron is also a great business investor, owning investments with Beats Electronics, stakes in the Fenway ownership group and the Liverpool Football Club, and investments with Blaze Pizza. Not to mention, LeBron also has a lifetime deal with Nike, which is set to make him at least $1 billion when all is said and done.
3. Junior Bridgeman
Junior Bridgeman has a net worth of $600 million, and is different from the other players who follow him because he made the majority of his money from business rather than basketball. He was a consistent and talented guard for the Bucks during the late 1970s and 1980s, playing 12 years with the team. While he was not a superstar in any way, he was a solid and dependable player for the team. He studied the Wendy's franchise during his career to learn all about the business, and eventually purchased three franchises. After his retirement, seeing the success of his restaurants, he decided to invest in Wendy’s and opened up 160 new restaurants. Along with his Wendy’s venture, Bridgeman also decided to invest in Chili’s, and opened up 120 franchises with them. Rather than his basketball career in the NBA, Bridgeman can thank his business skills and investments for his $600 million net worth.
4. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is one of the most talented point guards in NBA history, with a net worth of $600 million. He obviously can thank his NBA career for his introduction to stardom, but his true money-making ventures did not happen until after his retirement. Johnson was the centerpiece of some of the best Lakers teams ever. He was able to earn upwards of $40 million throughout his playing career, even signing the largest contract in sports history at one point. At one time, Johnson owned 125 Starbucks locations and had investments in a few financial services. Johnson reportedly made between $50 and $60 million from a transaction of a 4% stake in the Lakers organization and has also invested a similar amount in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in the MLB. All of these business ventures have helped to skyrocket Johnson’s net worth.
5. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players to ever live, and had a net worth of $600 million. Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years before retiring in 2016. He won five NBA championships, was a two-time NBA MVP, and played in 18 NBA All-Star Games. He also led the league in scoring in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Bryant made over $323 million in salary from the Lakers, making him one of the highest-salaried players of all time. After his 2016 retirement, Bryant followed in the footsteps of other NBA stars like Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson, expanding his horizons into the business world. For one, he continued to grow his brand development firm, Kobe Inc., which he founded before his retirement in 2014. Kobe Inc. became known for its $6 million investment in BodyArmor, a sports drink company; the deal would later be valued at $200 million, a significant profit. Bryant also achieved success as the writer and narrator for the 2017 Oscar-winning short film “Dear Basketball.” Bryant’s other company, the venture capital firm Bryant Stibel & Co., has invested in many companies, including Scopely and LegalZoom. Even after Bryant’s tragic passing in 2020, his ventures continue to make money, with his entire business empire being worth an estimated $600 million in 2021.
6. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal may have one of the best personalities of any player to play in the NBA, and has a net worth of over $400 million. Therefore, it is no surprise how much he rakes in through endorsements alone, which come from companies like Buick, IcyHot, Arizona Beverages, and many more. Along with all of his endorsements, Shaq also made a whopping $300 million during his 19-year career. After his retirement, Shaq transformed into the genius businessman that he is today. At one point after his retirement, Shaq owned 155 Five Guys restaurants, 17 Auntie Anne’s locations, a Krispy Kreme franchise, and a Big Chicken in Las Vegas. He also invested in numerous Papa John's locations and received an endorsement contract with the company. These are not all of his investments, though: they also include 40 24-Hour Fitness locations and 150 car washes. Other companies Shaq has money invested in include the Sacramento Kings, Google, and Ring. Not only does Shaq earn a lot of money from his investments, he also endorses many products on television, and is an NBA analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA.
7. David Robinson
David Robinson was a tough and rugged naval officer who later turned into a top NBA power forward of all time, earning an estimated net worth of $200 million. Nicknamed “The Admiral” because of his military background, he was able to win two NBA titles and play 14 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. Even though he was able to rack up $118 million during his basketball career, his true success did not come until after he retired from the NBA. After his retirement, Robinson started a private equity fund that helped raise $115 million after its launch in 2007. He acquired many real estate assets worth upwards of $350 million. Also, one of his first investments after retirement was investing in the San Antonio Spurs by purchasing a 1.88 percent equity stake in the team. All of these investments by The Admiral have helped to raise his net worth over time.
8. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon was one of the most athletic players of his generation, with a net worth of around $200 million. He was able to produce two championships for the Houston Rockets and some of the most memorable stat lines ever. The 12-time All-Star and Olympic gold medal winner recorded the illustrious quadruple-double during his career and was able to bring in just about $107 million during his career. His career earnings were the backbone of his net worth, but his post-retirement investments are what really skyrocketed The Dream to the top. In 2011, he launched his clothing line, DR34M, based on his nickname and number during his career. Olajuwon also has many real estate investments that have reportedly earned him around $100 million, and has endorsement deals with Etonic, LA Gear, and Spalding.
9. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is one of the most talented basketball players in the world, with a net worth of around $200 million. He is one of the best natural scorers that the NBA has ever seen, which is why when his current contract with the Nets ends, he will have made around $350 million throughout his career. Along with the stellar contracts that he has signed during his career, Durant also holds many endorsement deals with companies such as Nike, Alaska Airlines, and American Family Insurance. Durant also invested some of his money in about 50 companies, including Postmates, Acorns, Lime, and Master & Dynamic. All of these business ventures and lucrative contracts have landed Durant a place as one of the richest basketball players ever.
10. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is an NBA legend, best known for his time with the Celtics and Timberwolves, which largely contributed to his net worth of approximately $190 million. Garnett won an NBA Championship in 2008 with the Celtics as a core member of their “Big Three,” and was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2020. Outside of his playing career, Garnett played an integral role in the Adam Sandler movie Uncut Gems, playing himself. He has also served as an advisor with the Clippers and the Bucks, and as a basketball analyst on TNT. His dominance on the court and off have culminated in his sizable fortune of around $190 million, and he will go down as an all-time NBA great both in regards to his playing ability and his finances.
Grant Hill was a great player and hard worker throughout his 19-year career in the NBA, accumulating a net worth of $180 million. He made more than enough money to both invest in and co-own an NBA franchise. Throughout his career, Hill had many lucrative endorsement opportunities with Sprite and McDonald’s, as well as Fila, Adidas, Nike, and AT&T. After his retirement is when Hill really began raking in the money. In 2015, Hill came on as part of the announcing crew by CBS and Turner Sports for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Hill also opened up his own business venture company to invest in multi-unit family housing projects. The $140 million that Grant Hill made during his career as well as his endorsements, acting work, and investments has helped to skyrocket his net worth.
James Harden has a net worth of $170 million and has proven himself as a prolific scorer with one of the cleanest shots in all of the NBA. By the end of his current contract, Harden will have earned upwards of $250 million from his base contract, as well as extra incentives and bonuses. Along with his hefty contract, Harden has one of the deepest and richest endorsement portfolios in the league. Using his fortune, he invested in both the Major League Soccer team from Houston, the Houston Dynamo, as well as the National Women’s Soccer League, the Houston Dash. Harden recently signed a 13-year deal with Adidas, and his other endorsement deals include deals with Trolli, Stance Socks, Beats Electronics, State Farm, and BodyArmor. All of these endorsement deals and investment opportunities have helped to propel Harden to his impressive net worth.
Stephen Curry is likely the best shooter the NBA has ever seen and has a net worth of over $160 million. He was drafted with the seventh overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2009 NBA Draft. Curry has played for the Warriors ever since. He is a three-time NBA champion and two-time NBA MVP. He has major endorsement deals with multiple large brands across different industries, most notably Under Armour, Infiniti Motors, and Callaway Golf. Curry also went as far as founding his own company, SC30, that is tasked with managing his investments and partnerships. Curry is well-known for being an aggressive investor and entrepreneur, and was even believed to have attempted to purchase the Carolina Panthers alongside Sean “P Diddy” Combs and other investors. In regard to his contract with the Golden State Warriors, Curry signed a four-year $215+ million deal that began in the 2022-2023 season.
What is the highest-paying NBA contract of all time?
Giannis Antetekounmpo holds the record for the most lucrative NBA contract ever, with a total of $228 million guaranteed over five years. This contract was the supermax contract for Giannis as a result of his commitment to the Milwaukee Bucks, which paid off well after the team won their second-ever NBA Championship in 2021. The players with the second most lucrative contracts are Steph Curry, who is getting paid over $215 million over four years, and Luka Doncic, who signed a five-year deal worth over $212 million, starting at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season.
Who has earned the most money from their NBA career?
LeBron James has made the most money from their NBA career, racking up $387,384,119 over the span of his 19-year career. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kevin Durant help to round out some of the other top spots on the list. NBA contracts have recently become more lucrative with the passing of the most recent collective bargaining agreements. Recently, even some of the league’s lesser-known players are signing contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
How many players on this list are still playing today?
On this list, there are three players that still remain active in the NBA. LeBron James, who is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. It is believed that after this contract is completed, he will either elect to retire or try to sign with the team that drafts his son, Bronny. James Harden, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant are also still active in the league. Durant currently plays with the Brooklyn Nets, while James Harden was traded from the Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers in the middle of the 2021-2022 season. Steph Curry, meanwhile, is still with his long-time team, the Golden State Warriors.
Do higher salaries lead to more NBA Championships?
The above players are the richest players ever to pick up a basketball in the NBA, but the big question in sports is if money equates to winning championships. There are some of the greatest players in basketball history on this list, players who have also been smart enough to invest their money in smart places after their career is over. On this list alone, among the ten players listed, there have been a total of 31 NBA championships among them. While there isn’t a firm connection between having more money and increased talent, the reverse seems to be the case. One thing that is clear is that greater talent can lead to more championships, which then makes it more likely that a player will receive lucrative contracts and business opportunities.