NBA Highest-Paid Players: LeBron Scores $128M in Earnings for 2023-24

LeBron James has racked up a sparkling on-court resume since he entered the NBA in 2003 at 18 years old as “The Chosen One.” Highlights include being the league’s all-time leading scorer, 10 NBA finals trips, four NBA titles and All-NBA first team 13 times.

Somehow, his off-the-court game might be even more staggering. James’ career earnings from salaries and endorsements will hit an estimated $1.4 billion by the end of this season, behind only Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Cristiano Ronaldo among athletes all time. He’s built a deep roster of equity positions in companies and started a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

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James should earn roughly $128 million this season, 25% more than any other NBA player.

NBA stars are reaping the rewards of soaring player salaries and their abilities to be global brands. The top 15 will earn more than $1 billion this season, with 34% of the tally from off-the-court sources. After James, Stephen Curry ($101.9 million), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($90.6 million), Kevin Durant ($88.4 million) and Klay Thompson ($64.2 million) round out the top five.

James and Curry remain must-see TV deep into their careers; they won six MVP titles in eight years between 2008-09 and 2015-16, and they have made 16 NBA Finals appearances between them. It is one reason marketers gravitate to both stars, with their estimated off-court earnings of $80 million (James) and $50 million (Curry) the highest in the sport.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors both squeaked into the playoffs last season after uneven regular seasons. The NBA’s TV partners were even more excited when they both won first round series over higher seeds. Their head-to-head matchup was the most-watched semifinal series in almost 30 years, a lifetime ago in the TV landscape.

James’ endorsement portfolio includes AT&T, Beats,, GMC and PepsiCo, while Curry pitches for Callaway, CarMax, Rakuten and Subway. Like most NBA stars, the biggest deal for both is their shoe contracts. James signed a lifetime deal with Nike in 2019 that pays more than $30 million annually. In April, Curry extended his long-term partnership with Under Armour; he became president of UA’s Curry Brand, and the company announced the four-time NBA champion would broaden his involvement with the company to include golf, women’s and youth categories. He received $75 million worth of restricted stock units as part of the deal, which vest in 2029 and 2034.

James, Curry and Durant have long moved past just cashing checks from endorsements and are building multi-pronged businesses. James’ biggest asset is SpringHill Company, which includes production company SpringHill Entertainment, media platform Uninterrupted and brand consultancy Robot. In 2021, SpringHill sold a minority stake to a consortium led by RedBird Capital Partners that valued the company at $725 million.

Curry founded Unanimous Media in 2018 to focus on “family, faith and sports-based” content. He established “Underrated Tours” for basketball and golf to provide overlooked young talents a place to showcase their skills. Curry joined James in the spirits game this year with his own Kentucky Straight Bourbon brand, Gentleman’s Cut. In 2020, James invested in Lobos 1707 Tequila.

In April, Durant landed his own lifetime Nike contract, joining LeBron and Jordan among NBA players with such deals. KD founded 35V in 2016 with business partner Rich Kleiman, and their Boardroom media network covers sports, entertainment and culture. Durant’s sports-focused investments include Athletes Unlimited, Gotham FC, League One Volleyball, Philadelphia Union, Premier Lacrosse League, National Cycling League, Major League Pickleball and TMRW Sports.

The NBA season tips off next Tuesday with all eyes on French teenage phenom Victor Wembanyama, but he will have to wait a few years to crack the top earners. The NBA caps all individual salaries, but the rookie wage scale is miles behind what a player can make in his second deal. Wembanyama is set to earn $55 million over the next four years; meanwhile, Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton—all members of the 2020 draft class—signed five-year extensions this summer worth $206 million apiece and could hit $250 million based on their performance this season.

The NBA’s salary cap moves in lockstep with revenues, and players are entitled to half of the overall pie. The highest bracket of contracts is the “supermax” deal for 35% of the cap for players with at least 10 years in the league or available to those with seven years of experience who were awarded certain leaguewide accolades.

Jaylen Brown became eligible for a supermax extension with the Boston Celtics after earning second-team All-NBA honors last season. The seven-year veteran signed a five-year, $288 million deal that is the richest in NBA history; the extension kicks in next season. His teammate, Jayson Tatum, will almost certainly get a bigger supermax deal when he is eligible next summer as the cap rises.

Forty-two NBA players are expected to earn at least $30 million in salary this season before incentives, led by Curry at $51.9 million. For comparison, the NFL has 15 players at $30 million, while MLB has 14.


Sportico estimated off-court earnings for the 2023-24 season through conversations with those familiar with NBA endorsement deals. Also included are royalties from sneaker deals, as well as earnings from memorabilia, appearances, media and businesses tied to their celebrity. We exclude investment income unless it is connected to an endorsement agreement. The figures are all before taxes and any agent fees.

The salaries are base salaries for the season and do not include any playoff bonuses or incentives—most of these players are on max-level contracts which don’t include incentives. We also did not deduct the 10% escrow payments withheld from contracts that are used to ensure the proper revenue split as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. Outside of the seasons impacted by COVID-19, the bulk of the escrow account has often been returned to the players as league revenue soared over the past decade.

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