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.
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20 Russell Westbrook – Lens Crafters
Most of Russell Westbrook’s glasses do not even have lenses, so I'm not even sure if Westbrook really needs glasses at all. But that is besides the fact. Glasses are about fashion and accessorizing. And the NBA has become a lot more fashion conscience than ever before. Westbrook, in particular, has mastered the art of wearing hipster glasses of all shapes and colors. Regardless of whether or not they have lenses, the colorful frames that he wears make him the perfect poster-boy for a company that sells glasses.
19 Blake Griffin – Geico
What would be more humorous than to have Chris Paul’s teammate, Blake Griffin, do Gieco commercials to combat all of the State Farm Insurance commercials that Chris Paul does? Blake has done an excellent job of doing commercials for KIA and he is one of the most marketable players in the NBA, so this would be a perfect match with Geico’s witty humor. Blake does not really have one of the loudest personalities in the NBA, and Geico could utilize his dry personality the same way that Kia has.
18 DeMarcus Cousins – Colgate
DeMarcus Cousins favorite expression is a scowl on his face. And that’s why doing a Colgate commercial where he has to smile incessantly would be so humorous. Rather than selecting somebody like Dwight Howard who smiles all the time, why not go the counter route and make somebody that never smiles, smile the whole time on camera? Oxymorons and contrasts are some of the best ways of highlighting something because that thing stick out more.
17 Kenneth Faried – Red Bull
Is there anyone as bouncy in the NBA as Kenneth Faried? Faried plays with more energy on the court than anyone else in the NBA. His RPM rarely ever slows down and his high-motor rarely ever takes a break. Who better to choose for an energy drink that jolts caffeine into your body than the bounciest player in the league? With Faried coming off an excellent summer in the World Cup and signing his new contract with the Denver Nuggets, he is as marketable as ever.
16 Marcus Smart – ProActive
There are multiple players in the league that could probably have done this commercial, but Marcus Smart wins the award because he is a rookie. Like most 19-year-olds, Smart is still battling some of the skin problems that all kids face even after they go through puberty. Smart could do a great before and after commercial because eventually his skin will clear up.
15 Kevin Love – Wrangler
If Brett Farve can do a jean commercial, so can Kevin Love. Both guys look like they were born in flannels with a pair of jeans in a cabin somewhere. Maybe it is the beard, but Love looks like he belongs in the forest cutting some wood with an axe. So, either he needs to start doing some Gap commercials selling flannel or a pair of Wrangler jeans.
14 Manu Ginobili – Rosetta Stone
Contrary to popular opinion, Manu Ginobili is not European. He is South American. He was born in Argentina, but he did play in Italy for quite some time prior to the NBA. Like most non-Americans, Ginobili has picked up a language or two during all of his travels. He can speak Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and English. I can totally picture Manu doing a Rosetta Stone commercial where he is saying the same line in four different languages.
13 Dwight Howard – Skittles
The two kryptonites for this Superman are free throws and candy. Howard has a weak spot in particular for Skittles. For whatever reason, Skittles has a happy feel to it, and there is no player in the league that is as happy as Dwight Howard. I cannot believe that Howard has not already said a commercial saying, “Taste the Rainbow.”
12 Gregg Popovich – Yellow Tail Wine
This will never happen, but it makes perfect sense. Pop is a wine connoisseur. In fact, he even has his own vineyard and he gifts bottles of wine for almost every person he gives a gift to. There is nobody in the NBA that is more of a wine expert and fanatic than Coach Pop. And Yellowtail is one of the most recognizable brands in the wine world.
11 Anderson Varejao – Head and Shoulders
Sideshow Bob’s hair has as much volume as anyone in the NBA. His hair looks so fluffy and voluminous it looks like you can bounce things off of his head like a springboard and he would never feel it. Varejao’s hair is one of the most famous in the NBA and he would be a great fit for any shampoo commercial.
10 Stan Van Gundy – JoS. A. Bank Mock Turtle Necks
Most people would not associate Stan Van Gundy with fashion, but he may be one of the most marketable fashionista’s in the NBA. Van Gundy usually wears two types of shirts underneath all of his suits. Either he wears a polo or he wears a mock turtle neck. And since the target audience of most JoS. A. Bank customers are around SVG’s age, he makes the most perfect person to rep this fashion company.
9 James Harden – Wahl Beard Trimmer
There are very few men that can even grow a beard like James Harden. His beard is so long now that it probably extends close to 5 inches down his chin. So, even Harden needs to trim his beard every now and then. Otherwise, he won’t even be able to put food in his mouth without his own hair touching it. And Wahl is one of the best companies out there.
8 Steve Nash – Tempur-Pedic Beds
Nash has more back problems than anyone in the NBA. He can’t even sit on the bench without his back flaring up, so he usually lies down on the floor to prevent his back from stiffening up, which would prevent him from playing the rest of the game. If there is anyone that deserves to lie dowin on a comfortable Tempur-Pedic bed after a game, it is Steve Nash. Anyone with back problems can relate to the need for a very good and comfortable bed after a long day at work.
7 O.J. Mayo – Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
Hellman should do two commercials with O.J. Mayo. One with the Mayo from last year where he is putting a generic brand of mayonnaise on everything, which may or may not have been the real culprit behind him gaining 30 pounds last year. And then they should do a new commercial this year with the skinny Mayo who is eating Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise. C’mon Hellman’s! This is a match made in heaven!
6 Tony Parker – Gillette
Some people get 5 o’clock shadows, but Tony Parker gets a 5 o’clock shadow at 12 o’clock. Even when Parker was a 17-year-old rookie in the league, he always had a very scruffy face. Very few people in life have to shave twice a day, but he might be one of them. Parker probably goes through razor blades twice as fast as any other guy. Parker would be a great fit for a shaving commercial.
5 Jeremy Lin – Trivial Pursuit
Without fail, Jeremy Lin’s name is always affiliated with Harvard. Lin is obviously a bright guy and can do a whole lot of commercials. But why not choose a commercial where his smarts are really put to the test? Trivial Pursuit is one of the most classic board games out there, and Lin could easily be the face for one of the more intellectually challenging games out there.
4 Joakim Noah – Sport Clips
Joakim Noah might have the most famous hair in the league. He might also be the only player in the league that ties his hair in a bun. If Noah is willing, why not do a before and after haircut for one of the most up and coming hair cutting chains in the nation – Sport Clips? Sport Clips combines sports and hair cutting, so having a NBA athlete actually do one of their commercials would be a great fit.
3 Tim Duncan – Speedos
Before Tim Duncan ever had an interest in basketball, his first passion was always swimming. Duncan’s sister was a professional swimmer and Duncan followed right behind her. In fact, he even had Olympic aspirations before a hurricane destroyed his swimming pool and he had to find a new hobby, which naturally became basketball. Duncan still swims very often to stay in shape, so the Virgin Islands big man would be the perfect player to endorse a brand that makes swimming trunks.
2 Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milk
The Greek Freak supposedly grew 2-3 inches after he got drafted. What? That’s right. Giannis is still growing and the 6’10” lanky guard may even grow even more next year. Interestingly enough, head coach Jason Kidd, is experimenting Giannis at the point guard position and he honestly thinks this experiment can succeed. If Giannis succeeds in the NBA, and there is no reason he should not with the amount of potential that he has, Milk would be a great match for the Greak Freak. Milk has obviously gotten celebrities before to do commercials with a Milk mustache. And there may be no better player in the league to do a Milk commercial than a player that is still continuing to grow.
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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