Three of the top National Basketball Association players are set for huge paydays in the 2022-2023 season. The paydays come from NBA salaries ranking ahead of other North American sports and also from large endorsement deals. Here are the details.
NBA On Top: The trio of LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are set to earn a combined $300 million from salaries and endorsements for the 2022-2023 season.
The 15 top paid NBA players will make nearly $1 billion from salary and endorsements combined. The $969 million total ranks significantly ahead of soccer ($755 million), the National Football League ($675 million) and Major League Baseball ($541 million), according to a new report from Sportico.
James ranks first for athletes, making $119.5 million in the upcoming NBA season, broken down as $75 million from endorsements and $44.5 million from salary. James' sponsors include AT&T T, Nike Inc NKE, PepsiCo PEP and Apple Inc AAPL-owned Beats by Dre.
James also is an investor in companies like Blaze, Calm, Openfit and Lobos 1707 tequila.
Curry ranks second on the list with earnings of $93.1 million in the upcoming season from salary and endorsements. Curry is the highest paid NBA player with an annual salary of $48.1 million, which means he makes less than 50% of his money from endorsements, unlike James. Curry has over 10 endorsement deals, with Under Armour UA among the most notable.
Durant ranks third on the list at $91 million in annual earnings from salary and endorsements. Durant makes $48 million from endorsements and $43 million from salary. His top endorsement deals include Nike, Coinbase COIN, Dapper Labs, FanDuel and video game NBA 2K from Take-Two Interactive Software TTWO.
Like James, Durant has turned entrepreneur in recent years and invested in companies like Acorns, Postmates and OpenSea. James has over 75 investments, according to the report, including several professional sports teams.
Why It’s Important: NBA salaries continue to top other sports on an annual basis for several reasons, including the length being capped at five years and the size of the team. NBA teams play five players at a time, compared to 11 for football and nine for baseball, which could have something to do with the amount paid per player.
When it comes to annual earnings, the NBA superstars are unmatched.— Sportico (@Sportico) October 13, 2022
The 15 highest-paid basketball players will earn an estimated $969 million this season in salary and endorsements, well ahead of the tally for those in soccer, the NFL and MLB. https://t.co/uHgsEFVwps pic.twitter.com/X4Lz1ca80X
Another big factor in endorsement earnings for NBA players are the power of sneakers, with many NBA stars having their own signature shoes or large endorsement deals with Nike (James, Durant) and Under Armour (Curry).
Endorsements make up 35% of earnings for the top 15 earning NBA players. Over 40 players in the NBA will make at least $30 million in the 2022-2023 season, according to the report.
James has been the endorsement king over the last few years, with only tennis legend Roger Federer able to come close in terms of endorsement earnings annually.
How NBA Salaries Rank Among Sports: Among the top 50 highest paid athletes by salary in North American sports, the NBA holds the top five positions and nine of the top 10 places. Only Aaron Rodgers, of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, ranks in the top ten at sixth place and a $50.3-million salary.
Across all 50 places, the NBA holds 32 places, compared to 10 for the NFL and eight for MLB (the 19th place is the only baseball player in the top 25).
As Benzinga previously reported, the high salaries of NBA players also come in significantly higher than the women’s professional basketball league, the WNBA. This could explain why Brittney Griner and other WNBA players play in countries like Russia during the offseason.
The NBA's TV Rights: The NBA enjoys strong television ratings, but they still trail the NFL. NBA television rights are also not worth as much to the league. The Walt Disney Company DIS and Warner Bros. Discovery WBD paid $24 billion for a nine-year deal for NBA TV rights set to run through the 2024-2025 season.
NBA salaries could theoretically go up, as the NBA could be in for a big windfall in its next TV rights deal.
Front Office Sports reports the next deal could come in the $50 billion to $75-billion range, over double the current deal. Amazon.com Inc AMZN is a company that could look to grab a piece of the sport, which does well in ratings with a younger audience.
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