Believe it or not, NBA players make more money off of their endorsements than off of their actual NBA contracts. If you are one of the few to be in the superstar class and marketable enough for a particular product, unlike the NBA there are no salary cap restrictions for a company that may want to sign you to a contract. For example, this past summer, Under Armour almost signed Kevin Durant for somewhere between $265 million and $285 million over the span of 10 years. However, Nike swooped in at the last second and offered Durant $300 million, which will also likely be for the next 10 years. Nike is paying Durant nearly $10 million more per year than what he is making from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Endorsements are a major part of a player’s income. Even retired players like Shaquille O’Neal are still doing commercials for products as inconspicuous as Gold Bond Body Powder. He has even done a commercial for the Buick LaCrosse, which is largely an elderly person’s car gear towards the middle aged.
Even while Shaq was playing, he earned over $292 million in endorsements during his stellar 19-year career. In total, Shaq probably has over 12 products that he has endorsed, from products anywhere from cream soda, Icy Hot, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pepsi, Radio Shack, Comcast, to the Buick LaCrosse. He is truly a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to endorsement ads.
Presently, modern day players like Kobe Bryant have done foreign commercials for companies such as Turkish Airlines and the Smart Car. Kevin Durant has done Sprint’s famous commercial for the Friends and Framily Plan. Jeremy Lin has done Volvo. And of course, Blake Griffin has done Kia Optima commercials.
But there are a whole bunch of other players that are just as marketable and able to be the face of these particular products in particular.
20 20. Russell Westbrook – Lens Crafters
19 19. Blake Griffin – Geico
18 18. DeMarcus Cousins – Colgate
17 17. Kenneth Faried – Red Bull
16 16. Marcus Smart – ProActive
15 15. Kevin Love – Wrangler
14 14. Manu Ginobili – Rosetta Stone
13 13. Dwight Howard – Skittles
12 12. Gregg Popovich – Yellow Tail Wine
11 11. Anderson Varejao – Head and Shoulders
10 10. Stan Van Gundy – JoS. A. Bank Mock Turtle Necks
9 9. James Harden – Wahl Beard Trimmer
8 8. Steve Nash – Tempur-Pedic Beds
7 7. O.J. Mayo – Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
6 6. Tony Parker – Gillette
5 5. Jeremy Lin – Trivial Pursuit
4 4. Joakim Noah – Sport Clips
3 3. Tim Duncan – Speedos
2 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milk
1 1. LeBron James – Rogaine
Karl Malone did it and so should LeBron. The two most recognizable aspects of LeBron’s physique are his muscles and his receding hairline. It is a running joke in the league that LeBron’s headband gets higher up his forehead each and every year, but LeBron’s hairline has become such an issue recently that he now has to put makeup on the top of his head during interviews to make his hair look fuller. What better representative to do a hair growth commercial than the best basketball player in the world? If LeBron truly wants to be a billionaire, I am sure that Rogaine can help him get there if he is willing to swallow his pride and endorse them. Either that, or LeBron may have to just give up holding on to his hair and shave it clean.
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