LeBron James, Steph Curry NBA's Highest-Paid with Endorsements, Contracts

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2021

FILE - In this Saturday, March 2, 2019 file photo, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) controls the ball in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix. Though LeBron James didn't make the playoffs in his first season in Los Angeles, his move to the Lakers paid off in jersey sales. The NBA announced Thursday, April 25, 2019 that James had the most popular individual jersey during the regular season and that the Lakers sold the most team merchandise. They knocked off Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, who had been the most popular player and team for three consecutive seasons. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Forbes revealed Friday that Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is the NBA's top-earning player for the seventh consecutive year when taking salary and endorsements into account.

James boasts a salary of $31.4 million and will make $64 million in endorsements for a total of $95.4 million.

LeBron is followed by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry at $74.4 million. Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant ($65.2 million), Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook ($58.1 million) and newly acquired Nets guard James Harden ($50 million) round out the top five.

The rest of the top 10 is composed of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo ($49 million), Warriors guard Klay Thompson ($43.3 million), Nets guard Kyrie Irving ($43 million), Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul ($40.1 million) and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard ($39 million).

Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes wrote that LeBron will reach $1 billion in career earnings this year, making him only the fifth athlete to do so while still active. The others are golfer Tiger Woods, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and soccer icons Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Badenhausen noted that $700 million of that $1 billion will have been made off the court with AT&T, Beats, Nike, Walmart, Rimowa, GMC and Blaze Pizza standing as his current endorsement deals. The 36-year-old is expected to sign with PepsiCo after previously representing Coca-Cola.

In terms of base salaries, James is only sixth in the NBA this season behind Curry, Westbrook, Paul, Harden and Houston Rockets guard John Wall, according to Spotrac.

Along with having the NBA's highest base salary for the 2020-21 season, Curry's earnings are bolstered by a large endorsement contract with Under Armour, which is worth $20 million per year.

Of the 10 highest-earning players, only James, Curry, Durant and Antetokounmpo will make more this year through endorsements than salary.

Giannis is the lowest-paid player on the list in terms of 2020-21 salary at $22 million, but his salary next season will skyrocket to over $39 million after he signed a five-year, $228.2 million extension with the Bucks in December.