The purpose of this article is not to glorify the wealth of the elite of the NBA; it is to inspire everyone to dream on a higher level and to motivate you to use your natural abilities to your highest potential.
Sports pay big, and professional basketball players are no exception to that rule. A career in the NBA can amount to a really big paycheck each season, as well as a multitude of endorsements, celebrity appearances and a huge fan base. Many NBA players who are really good at what they do go onto to make money in other aspects of life, from opening restaurants to starring in the movies to becoming businessmen.
The NBA is a great place to play ball if you have the skill and talent required to play in the big leagues, like the 10 wealthiest players of all time.
10. Gary Payton – $130 million
Gary “the glove” Payton’s career began in 1990 after he was the second overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft. He’d attended college and played ball for Oregon State University, becoming one of the best players in school history to date. After being drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics, he went onto have one of the most lucrative careers in basketball history. His career has spanned nearly two decades and he is the only recipient of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award who ever played point guard. He’s also the 10th richest player in NBA history.
9. Tim Duncan – $150 million
What makes it inspiring to see Tim Duncan on the list is the fact that he did not even start playing basketball until he was a freshman in high school. He was a swimmer up until that point. He played throughout high school, perfected his skills and eventually went on to play basketball for Wake Forest. He was drafted in 1997 by the San Antonio Spurs as their first pick. He was MVP in 2001/2002 and he went on to play for the US basketball team that won 10 wins and qualified for the Olympics. And let’s not forget he’s considered the best power forward of all time.
8. Grant Hill – $180 million
He’s one of the most famous basketball players in history, as well as one of the richest NBA players ever. Even though he’s retired, he’s still earning a significant salary thanks to his endorsements and his business ventures. He won two NCAA championships when he played for Duke University in North Carolina, and he played in the 1996 Olympics. He retired from basketball at the end of the 2013 season and still makes around plenty per year from his endorsements. He’s married with two children and enjoying his retirement. Hill could have been considered one of the best ever if not for injuries hampering his career.
7. Kevin Garnett – $180 million
Kevin Garnett went down in history when he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves directly out of high school. He was the first player ever to be drafted out of high school that high up on the board, and he’s one of the wealthiest basketball players in NBA history. He’s made numerous accomplishments both on and off the court, taking home MVP honors, an Olympic gold medal, Championship win, and a long list of other achievements. During the 1997 season, he signed a $126 million contract for six years. He makes $10 million a year in endorsements for various companies that pay him to put his face on their product.
6. Hakeem Olajuwon – $200 million
He’s been retired for 12 years now, but he’s still one of the wealthiest men ever to play basketball for the NBA. He played college basketball for the University of Houston and managed to help his team make it to the NCAA Final Four in March Madness three years in a row during the early 1980s. He was destined to play basketball when, at age 15, he stood 6 feet 9 inches tall. He was born in Nigeria, but made his career in America, playing for the Houston Rockets. He has several endorsements that bring in millions each year. He’s considered one of the best centers in history. “The Dream” had such a sweet stroke and a huge arsenal of low post moves.
5. LeBron James – $250 million
LeBron James is probably the most famous basketball player today. He is still a baby in NBA standards, having only played since 2003 and just reaching his prime at 29. He was the first round draft pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he is the youngest player in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year. He’s played in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, earning bronze and gold medals in the games. He’s got 2 Championships under his belt and is seeking a 3rd. He’s also got multiple MVP awards and is already considered a top 5 player in history. He also has a number of endorsements that earn him approximately $53 million per year.
4. Kobe Bryant – $260 million
Kobe Bryant comes from a family of basketball players. His father played for the Philadelphia 76ers for several years. They also named him after the famous beef that hails from Japan, which is just an interesting little tidbit of information most people don’t know. Bryant was a good student in school, and could have gone to college anywhere he wanted, but chose to go pro right away. He is best known for being one of the best Los Angeles Lakers ever. At 35 he’s aging a bit but is still one of the highest paid players in the game. Plus he’s a scoring machine and “The Black Mamba!”
3. Shaquille O’Neal – $350 million
Shaq is one of the most famous players of all time. He retired several years ago, but he’s still makes tens of millions of dollars a year in endorsements, including sports brands and vehicles. He has made appearances in movies and commercials, and he even played for the 1996 Olympic basketball team from the USA. He’s no longer playing the game, but he is frequently seen on sports networks commentating, and he’s a frequent visitor to many talk shows and news programs to discuss the sport. His endorsements are his paycheck these days, but he earned almost $300 million in his NBA days for being one of the most dominant centers of all time winning multiple championships and an MVP award.
2. Magic Johnson – $500 million
Worth a half billion dollars, Magic Johnson is one of the wealthiest players ever to play for the NBA, as well as one of the most famous ever to play for the NBA. He earned his nickname after a stellar season at the age of 15 when he played ball in high school and turned down some of the biggest colleges in the country to play ball close to home at Michigan State University. He played in one of the biggest basketball rivalries of all time, against Larry Bird and the Indiana State University basketball team in the 1979 NCAA finals. It was the most watched basketball game ever on television. He then went on to win multiple championships with the Lakers, MVP awards, and will go down as one of the best point guards to ever play the game.
1. Michael Jordan – $1 billion
A $1 billion net worth makes Michael Jordan the wealthiest NBA player of all time. It also helps he is one of the most popular and by most considered the best player of all time. He’s been retired for more than a decade now, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still bringing in a fortune each year. His endorsements – and he still has plenty despite not playing professionally since retirement – bring in approximately $100 million per year. He reached the billion dollar mark in 2014 after increasing his ownership in the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) to almost 90 percent, pushing him over the top. Let’s see if he can be as successful as an executive as he was a player. The jury is still out!
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