Home Articles LeBron James Tops The Forbes List For Highest-Earning Basketball Player Yet Again

LeBron James Tops The Forbes List For Highest-Earning Basketball Player Yet Again

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If you were born in the late 1980s or later, it is hard to remember a time before Michael Jordan and how he dominated the sport of basketball for so long. He was a phenomenal player, a 6 time NBA Champion, a 6 time NBA finals MVP, and made it into the NBA All-Star team on 14 separate occasions. If you were looking for NBA betting lines during Jordan’s career, the smart money would have always been to bet on whichever team he was representing at the time. He was truly a sporting phenomenon.

He also became a global icon thanks to his Air Jordan trainers. Nike approached him in at the beginning part of his career to design some shoes that not only he would wear during the games, but would be sold to the mass market as well.

Since their initial release in 1985, there have been 35 different iterations of the shoes, and hundreds of millions of pairs of Air Jordan sneakers sold. Arguably, it is this that Jordan is best known for these days, and has put him on top of a very exclusive list: the Forbes All-time highest-paid athletes list.

It is estimated that Jordan has earned $1.85 billion during his career. Of course, a good portion of this income came during his playing career, but huge quantities also came from his partnership with Nike. He is currently over $150 million ahead of the next person on the list, golfer Tiger Woods.

There are two other former basketball players in the All-time top ten; Kobe Bryant (who tragically passed away in a helicopter accident a few years ago), and Shaquille O’Neal, who played for the L.A. Lakers, the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics, as well as several other teams during his career.

One man who hasn’t yet made it onto the All-time top 10 list is LeBron James, who is currently playing for the Lakers. Let’s take a look into his career, both on and off the court, to see if he might one day find his way into the top 10.

King James certainly has the Midas touch

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Born in Akron, Ohio in 1984, James made his debut in the 2003 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the Cavs were not a great side overall, James soon became one of the league’s premier players and would win the NBA MVP playing for Cleveland in 2009 and 2010. From there, James felt it necessary to move in order to achieve his potential, and win NBA championships. He joined the Miami Heat, where he was able to help them to win the 2012 and 2013 seasons, as well as being named MVP in the finals of both years.

Following four successful seasons, James decided to move back to Ohio, to try and win a title with his local side. This was achieved in 2016 when the Cavaliers won their first-ever NBA Championship. With that job complete, James then moved on again, to the LA Lakers, where he currently plays. He helped them to their 17th NBA title in 2020, when he was again voted as the NBA Finals MVP.

In 2021, James became the first player in the history of the NBA to accumulate $1 billion in earnings as an active player, surpassing the likes of O’Neil, Bryant and even Jordan. Because of his skills on the court, he has been handsomely paid for many years, taking shorter team deals to maximize his earning potential, and to give him the flexibility to move when necessary.  This is why he has topped the Forbes list for basketball players for the past 8 years.

Off the court deals and endeavors

Not content to just make money whilst playing the game, LeBron also has several other strings to his bow away from basketball. He has signed numerous endorsement deals with huge companies such as Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald’s Beats by Dre and State Farm. He also has a stake in the English soccer side Liverpool and has seen both his and their stock increase hugely in the last few years, as they won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.

Not only that, but LeBron has also begun to work as an actor, starring in several Hollywood movies. He was incredibly funny in the Judd Apatow movie Trainwreck alongside Amy Schumer, and recently had the lead role in Space Jam: A New Legacy. It was Michael Jordan who was the leading man in the first film, so there is another parallel to be drawn between the two men.

James seems certain to continue his stay at the top of the current Forbes list for highest players in basketball, but at this rate will one day LeBron overtake Jordan to top the All-time list? At the rate he is going, it seems more than likely.

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