Unfortunately for NBAers, the salaries they earn from their respective teams are severely limited by the salary cap. So while baseball players are beginning to earn contracts that are in excess of $30 million per season, basketball players can max out at just over $23 million per year. Because of salary cap restrictions, there are only so many of these max contracts to go around, and building a competitive roster sometimes hinges on a star player agreeing to take less than the maximum salary available. Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzi are notable examples of this, and Kobe Bryant represents the opposite end of the spectrum, as his max contract has made it difficult for the Lakers to add adequate talent to their roster.
Though the cap restrictions certainly affect a player's earning potential, they still benefit from the existence of very lucrative endorsement deals. Many players have a number of sponsorships and are able to significantly supplement their income through endorsements. Of the more valuable endorsements a player can benefit from are shoe contracts, as the NBA’s brightest stars bring in quite a bit of earnings through lucrative shoe deals.
While many of these players are repped by Nike and the Jordan Brand, there are a number of other companies looking to get into the sneaker game. In recent years companies like Li Ning and Anta have signed stars to big endorsement deals, but it is still the mainstays of the industry that provide the most in terms of payouts to players. These deals often work out very well for both sides, as players get a nice amount of additional income while the shoe companies get incredibly valuable exposure from being associated with some of the NBA’s best players. What follows are 15 players who have landed the most lucrative shoe endorsement deals based on the yearly income of those deals.
15 Joe Johnson - $1 Million, Jordan Brand
14 Russell Westbrook - $1.5 Million, Jordan Brand
13 Andrew Wiggins - At Least $2 Million, Adidas
12 Amar’e Stoudemire - $3 Million, Nike
11 T10. Chris Paul - $4 Million, Jordan Brand
10 T10. Carmelo Anthony - $4 Million, Jordan Brand
9 John Wall - $5 Million, Adidas
8 T7. Dwight Howard - $6 Million, Adidas
7 T7. Blake Griffin - $6 Million, Jordan Brand
6 Damian Lillard - $10 Million, Adidas
5 Dwyane Wade - $12 Million, Li Ning
4 Derrick Rose - $14.25 Million, Adidas
3 Kobe Bryant - $15 Million, Nike
2 LeBron James - $20 Million, Nike
1 Kevin Durant - $30 Million, Nike
Durant apparently owes Jay Z and Roc Nation Sports a serious debt of gratitude. The sports agency that netted Robinson Cano his massive $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners also landed Durant a shoe contract that will pay him $300 million over the next 10 years. That is a hefty contract, but Durant is one of the game’s best players and is also one of the more well-liked NBAers. Despite being in a smaller market in Oklahoma City, Nike has had no problem marketing Durant and generated $175 million in revenue per year off of Durant’s signature shoe.
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