Michael Jordan Still Boasts The Richest Shoe Deal In The NBA, Earning $193M This Year
When it comes to the world’s highest-paid athletes, the NBA certainly produces some of the wealthiest. You only need to look at LeBron James’ rise to fame to see just how lucrative sponsorships and endorsements prove for young athletes, after James entered the NBA in 2003 – straight out of high school – and took no time at all in establishing himself as the most dominant force on court, quickly becoming a household name as brands battles to enter deals with the star.
In a game prone to creating global icons in sport, the NBA has also been responsible for something of a sneaker renaissance. Increasingly, players are showing off their stylistic chops with the likes of Russell Westbrook entering into collaborations with reputable fashion brands. But when it comes to sneakers, that’s where the money is.
Just take Michael Jordan as an example. Even despite hanging up his basketball kit for the third and final time in 2003, it seems Jordan still reigns supreme when it comes to the basketball shoe market with an estimated $193 million annually from Jordan Brand, making him the top earner among NBA player sneaker deals.
As figures from Forbes reveal, nearly three quarters of NBA players took to the court in Nike or Jordan sneakers last season. But having relaunched its basketball business last summer, Puma is gaining momentum in the sport with new entries into the basketball arena.
Forbes also goes on to suggest that sneaker deals are the biggest endorsements for most NBA players, accounting for the majority of their off-court earnings.
Here are the five richest shoe deals in the NBA, according to Forbes. For the full list, visit forbes.com.
Michael Jordan (Jordan): $190 million
It’s somewhat comical to think that when Jordan first signed to Nike in 1984, the five-year deal saw him raking in just $500,000 annually. That figure has come a long way since, with Jordan continuing to be the most popular sneaker both on and off the court. Nike’s Jordan revenues were $2.8 billion for the fiscal year ending May 2016, up 18 percent over the previous 12 months. With a net worth of $1.3 billion, his earnings this year through his Jordan deal is a somewhat conservative estimate.
LeBron James (Nike): $47 million
In 2015, James signed a lifetime deal with Nike that was reportedly worth more than $1 billion. Over seven years, the Nike deal has seen him garner $90 million, proving he still has some way to go before he can reach the figure Nike promised. But according to NPD Group, James still sells more sneakers than any other active NBA player.
Kevin Durant (Nike): $38 million
Durant initially signed a seven-year, rookie shoe deal with Nike that was worth an estimated $60 million. Of course, when he was later awarded the prize for league MVP and scored four titles, sales took off and lucrative bonuses were added to the deal that were reportedly worth millions. Since then, he’s entered a 10-year extension with Nike that’s worth $300 million, including royalties.
Stephen Curry (Under Armour): $29 million
Although initially signed to Nike, Stephen Curry then joined Under Armour’s basketball brand in 2013. It’s reported that Curry is the brand’s third best-selling player between March 2016 and March 2017, after sales of the Curry 3 and Curry 2. His Under Armour pay jumped this season after a contract extension kicked in that he signed in September 2015.
Kobe Bryant (Nike): $23 million
So well respected is Kobe Bryant that there’s even an annual celebration for the man, celebrated on August 24 and heralded as Mamba Day – the date that combines Bryant’s two jersey numbers, 8 and 24. Nike released a series of limited-edition sneaker releases to commemorate the occasion.