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Jordan Vs. LeBron: Battle Of The Businessmen

Jordan Vs. LeBron: Battle Of The Businessmen

Michael Jordan and LeBron James are arguably the two greatest basketball players ever to step foot on a NBA court. Yet the accomplishments of James and Jordan extend well beyond the floor.

Nearly 14 years after Jordan’s retirement in 2003, Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) executives were still touting the strength and performance of Jordan’s brand in the company’s most recent earnings call.

LeBron is no slouch when it comes to monetizing his superstardom as well. James is the third highest-paid athlete in the world, but more than 2/3 of his income comes from endorsement deals.

Billion-Dollar Athlete

Jordan’s most aggressive and well-publicized business move was his $275 million investment in a two-thirds stake in the Charlotte Bobcats back in 2010. Earlier this year, Fox Sports valued the now Charlotte Hornets franchise at $780 million, making Jordan’s stake worth around $520 million.

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Incredibly, despite it being more than a decade since his retirement, Forbes named Jordan the highest-earning athlete in the world in 2016. Last year alone, Jordan’s endorsement deal with Nike was worth $100 million, more than the $94 million in total NBA earnings he collected in his entire career. In addition to the Nike deal, Jordan currently endorses Gatorade, 2K Sports, Five Star Fragrances and Hanesbrands Inc. (NYSE: HBI). Those endorsement deals and his investment in the Hornets pushed Jordan into the billionaires club back in 2014.

Heir To The Throne?

Estimates of the value of LeBron’s lifetime deal with Nike have generally ranged in the $400-500 million level. In addition to endorsement deals with Nike, James has deals with Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Dre Beats and Samsung. He has also launched an online multimedia platform for athletes called UNINTERRUPTED and made several appearances in popular TV shows and movies, including “Trainwreck.”

LeBron also intends to follow in Jordan’s footsteps after he retires and buy his own NBA team. James already holds a minority stake in the Premier League’s Liverpool Football Club.

Net Worth

At age 54, Forbes estimates Jordan’s net worth at $1.31 billion. Roughly 22 years Jordan’s junior, LeBron’s net worth currently stands at about $485 million, according to Bankrate.

The debate over which basketball great is the better businessman will likely continue to be as hotly-contested as the debate over which is the better basketball player. But the fact that both athletes are even a part of both conversations is a testament to both their skills on the court and their business acumen off of it.

Image credit: Keith Allison, Flickr


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