There’s more money to be made in the NBA than any other major North American professional sport. True, soccer players can make more overseas, but the MLS isn’t in the financial position as of yet to hand out massive contracts to its biggest stars. Baseball players salaries are comparable to NBA players, but that’s only the high-end starting pitchers or All-Stars; relievers and backup catchers can make half a million, and nobody in the NBA, not even the guy holding the 15th roster spot, is making those peanuts. And salaries will only continue to rise with the league’s massive TV deal. Steph Curry signed the biggest contract in league history recently, only for it to be topped by both Russell Westbrook and James Harden. If that trend holds up, the average bench player will be signing $100 million contracts in no time.
Beyond playing salary, NBA players have more endorsement opportunities than any athlete not named Peyton Manning (Nationwide is on your side). The basketball shoe culture is thriving and players are capitalizing. They’re also becoming more business savvy with all that money, whereas once rich players used to go broke upon retirement quite regularly (you’ll see a couple on this list). With that said, here are 15 of the most shocking NBA net worths, for better or worse.
15. Joe Johnson ($60 million)
Sixty million isn’t a lot compared to what’s to come on this list and Joe Johnson is – and has been for quite some time – a valuable player with skills that would make him an asset on any team, but would you think of him as one of the top 50 richest NBA players past and present? That’s apparently the case, according to Celebrity Net Worth, which has him ranked 49th, ahead of Mike Bibby (what?) and behind Jalen Rose. He even ranked No. 77 on Forbes’ 2016 list of the highest paid athletes thanks in part to a $120 million contract that once made him the league’s second highest player behind only Kobe Bryant.
That was well before $120 million contracts become the norm for average players. He has a Nike endorsement worth $1 million, but the majority of his net worth stems from his salary earnings and shrewd investments. Johnson is now in his 17th season and the second year of a two-year, $22 million contract.
14. Latrell Sprewell ($50,000)
Latrell Sprewell might not exactly be “broke” in the traditional sense, but relatively speaking he is. Compared to his peers who have stockpiled money and made good business decisions, Sprewell did just about everything wrong financially. Despite making over $100 million in salary earnings during his 13-year NBA career, the former New York Knick’ and Minnesota Timberwolves player is now worth an estimated $50,000.
He lost two of his homes due to foreclosure, was once sued by an ex-girlfriend for $200 million, and owed $3 million in back taxes to the state of Wisconsin. He also had a $1.3 million boat repossessed. He seems to have a sense of humor about his situation as he appeared in a 2016 commercial for Priceline in which he tells a bummed-out girl, “success is just failure that hasn’t happened yet.”
13. Zach Randolph ($65 million)
Like Johnson, Zach Randolph isn’t necessarily a player you would expect to see on a list like this. He’s a good player who has had a decent career in the NBA – he’s a two-time All-Star who has averaged 16.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game through 17 seasons – but he isn’t one of the first players that comes to mind when thinking of the game’s best or richest players.
However, Celebrity Net Worth has Randolph ranked as having the 45th highest net worth of any basketball player past or present. His longevity in the league has helped that, but you would think someone who has played just as long or longer, like Vince Carter, would come in ahead of him, but that isn’t the case. Naturally, most of his money comes from basketball, but a few online sources have stated that his personal investments are over $110 million.
12. Derrick Rose ($70 million)
For how bad he has been (compared to how good he was early in his career) lately, it’s shocking to see Derrick Rose as having the 37th highest net worth among all basketball players past and present. While he’s only making $2 million this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he built his fortune as the MVP with the Chicago Bulls, and even made $21 million with the New York Knicks last season.
The former first overall pick was also an endorsement dream earlier in his career; a flashy guard picked atop the draft by his hometown team. Had injuries not derailed his career, he could be still in Chicago and be ranked much higher on this list. He had a $1 million endorsement contract with Adidas upon being drafted and that figure only rose (pun fully intended) in the next few years.
11. Rasheed Wallace ($75 million)
This one falls into the Zach Randolph category of players you wouldn’t exactly think would be among the richest in NBA history. Without bringing up too many examples, let’s just say that Rasheed Wallace was never the smartest player on the court and he often let his temper get the best of him. He does hold the record for most technical fouls in one season after all. Yet, he’s apparently calm and collected when it comes to his money as he’s worth an estimated $75 million, which ranks 31st on Celebrity Net Worth’s list of the richest players – not bad for a guy who was earning the veteran’s minimum toward the end of his career.
Through 17 seasons, the former fourth overall pick earned over $150 million cash and apparently did a good job of investing and saving. The fact that he has been retired for nearly five years and continues to be one of the richest players is a testament to that.
10. Carmelo Anthony ($90 million)
Some have never quite understood the hype surrounding Carmelo Anthony. Is he still a good scorer? Sure. Was he once one of the league’s best scorers? Absolutely. But what has he done in the playoffs or in important games? Granted, he played much of his career with awful teams, but legend status is often gained through playoff performances. Anthony, meanwhile, has a seemingly undeserved reputation as one of the best players in the league, even at this point in his career.
Maybe it’s the cool-sounding name, maybe it’s the headband, or now maybe it’s the hoodie. Regardless, he is – and has been – a gold mine for endorsers, specifically Nike’s Jordan brand. Beyond that, he has been crafty enough to launch his own venture capital firm to invest in up-and-coming businesses, taking a page out of the book of his good friend LeBron James.
9. Russell Westbrook ($100 million)
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Russell Westbrook is worth $100 million and that figure is only going to rise in the coming years. The reigning MVP is one of the most exciting players in the league and recently agreed to a massive five-year, $205 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, meaning he will make $41 million per season.
While he doesn’t even need endorsements or other investment opportunities to keep his place as one of the league’s richest players, he also recently signed a 10-year contract with Nike’s Jordan brand worth a reported $200 million. That’s right, this past summer, Westbrook signed his name to a pair of contracts in which he is promised over $400 million through the next decade. It doesn’t get much better than that.
8. Dwight Howard ($100 million)
Before Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard was one of the league’s most marketable players. You don’t have to go back too far to remember him as one of the league’s most dominant players, capable of posting a double-double almost every night. He was a rebounding machine who couldn’t be stopped in the post, and he had a likeable personality to boot – the Superman dunk at NBA All-Star Weekend brought him to new heights.
He was making $21.4 million per season with the Houston Rockets well before the league’s new TV deal kicked in and was one of the league’s highest-paid players. Even though he’s actually regressed quite a bit, he’s now making more money per season – $23 million – thanks to the increasing salaries around the league. By the time his current contract expires, he will have made over $230 million in career earnings.
7. James Harden ($120 million)
Russell Westbrook signed the NBA’s biggest contract early in the offseason and then James Harden, who finished just behind Westbrook in 2016-17 MVP voting, said, “hold my beer.” The bearded combo guard agreed to an absurd four-year extension in Houston worth a guaranteed $228 million; if that isn’t enough incentive to completely mail in your career, we don’t know what is. However, to Harden’s credit, he continues to ball this season.
Not surprisingly, Harden’s extension vaulted him into the top 15 highest net worths with an estimated $120 million. Even before signing the contract, he had agreed to a 13-year, $200 million endorsement deal with Adidas, leveraging his past relationship with Nike for more money. To put his earnings in perspective, Harden will earn over $530,000 per game by the fourth year of his contract.
6. Kevin Durant ($150 million)
This might not be that surprising, but you have to wonder what he could be worth had he decided to leave Golden State and pursue a better contract elsewhere, because let’s face it, if Harden is making $228 million over four years, there is at least a handful of teams willing to give that to Kevin Durant; hell, if they could, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lakers give him $500 million. That’s how good he is (and how dumb the Lakers are).
But credit where credit is due; Durant is not only making millions playing the game he loves, he is earning a boatload of cash through his various endorsement deals. In 2016 alone, Durant made $36 million from partnerships with Gatorade, Nike, and Degree, among others.
5. Kobe Bryant ($350 million)
This is only shocking because Kobe Bryant once bought his wife a $4 million ring to make up for the sexual assault accusation that he eventually settled out of court. That whole incident alone cost Bryant millions of dollars, yet the Los Angeles Lakers legend is still worth more money than other legends like Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tim Duncan; in fact, Bryant ranks fifth on Celebrity Net Worth’s list of the richest basketball players.
The retired shooting guard earned over $300 million in salary throughout his career and could have earned at least double that had he been born a decade later. He also earned at least $280 million in endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Spalding and even Turkish Airlines. He’s now heavily involved in the venture capital industry.
4. Allen Iverson (-$1 million)
If Latrell Sprewell is bordering on being broke, Allen Iverson has been there for the better part of a decade, at least in terms of his net worth, which is an estimated negative $1 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Despite earning over $150 million in salary alone throughout his career, the former 76ers point guard had no idea of how to manage his money, traveling often with an entourage of as many as 50 people and buying cars and homes for his friends and family members. In 2012, he declared bankruptcy and a Georgia judge ordered the seizure of his bank accounts.
However, he is still getting by one roughly $1 million per year thanks to a friend who had the wherewithal to set him up a savings account with money accrued from his Reebok endorsement deal. There’s $32 million in the account and Iverson is prohibited from taking any more than $1 million per year until he is 55 years old.
3. Magic Johnson ($600 million)
Given the personal health troubles he faced during his career, it’s amazing to see Magic Johnson healthy and thriving in the business world. The former Los Angeles Lakers point guard made only $18 million during his playing career because he had the misfortune of playing in the 1980s and early 90s, when salaries weren’t as substaintial. However, in retirement, he has been one of the most successful former NBA players in the business world.
He used most of his money to launch Magic Johnson Enterprises, a business empire that is now valued at more than $1 billion. The company owns Magic Johnson Theaters, a small portion of the Lakers, and, along with a group of partners, a majority share in Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
2. Michael Jordan ($1.5 billion)
Arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Michael Jordan is just as – if not more – successful off the court. MJ is regarded as the richest basketball player of all-time with a net worth of $1.5 billion. Despite having been retired for over a decade, he still makes roughly $100 million a year in endorsement deals, which is absurd. There is no athlete in any other sport that can be retired that long and still be enough of a pop culture star to earn that much money.
Additionally, Jordan earns at least $60 million a year in Nike royalties from the Jordan brand. He also served as a spokesperson for major brands such as Gatorade, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Chevrolet, among others, throughout his career. He paid a $168 million divorce settlement to his ex-wife in 2002 and it didn’t affect him in the least.
1. LeBron James ($400 million)
Okay, so he isn’t worth as much as Michael Jordan, but you could argue that LeBron’s $400 million net worth at this point in his career is even more impressive, especially considering he is already heavily invested in the business world and seems to be well on his way to increasing his net worth over the years. He’s a major partner in Blaze Pizza, which recently became the fastest-growing food chain of all-time and his $35 million investment should return him a substantial amount of money in the near future.
James also makes about $77 million per year in investments, which is third only to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. He has made nearly $170 million in salary throughout his playing career and still appears to have another five or six good years left in him. More than anything, Nike is going to be the reason he eventually surpasses Jordan as the richest basketball player of all-time. The company signed him to a lifetime deal worth nearly $1 billion.
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