Forbes has published the list of highest-paid NBA players for the 2021-2022 season. According to Forbes, the NBA’s ten top-earning players are set to make $714 million, up 28% from 2020-21 and 19% from the previous high of $600 million from 2019-20.
In addition to making $714 million, the league’s ten top-earners are set to collect more than $305 million combined off the court, exceeding last year’s record total of $260 million.
The surge in this year’s total, according to Forbes, is down to two factors on the court. The NBA has imposed a salary cap of $112.4 million and the luxury-tax threshold to $136.6 million this season. The other factor is the return of the fans to the court. When the pandemic struck, the NBA made emergency financial adjustments that effectively cut player pay by up to 20%.
Below are the top five highest-paid players in the NBA:
1. LeBron James
LeBron James is the highest-paid NBA player for a record eighth consecutive year, according to Forbes. He will earn a $41.2 million salary for the upcoming season and an estimated $70 million off the court. In total, the Los Angeles Lakers star is projected to make $111.2 million in a single year.
His projected $111.2 million is a new NBA record, breaking the previous record of $96.5 million he set last season. His earnings also put him among athletes to surpass $100 million in a single year such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Dak Prescott, Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Roger Federer, and Conor McGregor.
2. Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors is the second-highest-paid NBA player with a salary of $92.8 million. The figure would have been a record for an NBA player just a year and a half ago. According to Forbes, Under Armour, which pays Curry $20 million a year, launched Curry Brand in December, hoping to challenge Nike’s Jordan Brand. Curry recently announced a major endorsement deal with cryptocurrency platform FTX. The NBA player also has his own production company, Unanimous Media, which is behind the ABC reality competition series Holey Moley.
3. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is one of the highest-earning NBA players off the court due to his involvement in multiple business deals. Forbes reports that he will earn $40.9 million in salary and $47 million in endorsement deals, bringing his total earnings to $87.9 million in a year. He recently partnered with cannabis tech company Weedmaps and NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Labs through his firms, Forbes said.
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Nigerian-Greek basketball superstar who led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 50 years after defeating the Phoenix Suns 105-98 to clinch the playoffs final series by 4-2.
According to Forbes, he will earn $39.3 million in salary and $41 million in endorsement deals, bringing his total earnings to $80.3 million in a year. The player recently bought a small stake in baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers.
5. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook will earn a $44.2 million salary, according to Forbes. He is also expected to make $30m from endorsement deals. In total, he is expected to make $74.2m in a year. The NBA player is behind eyewear brand Westbrook Frames and clothing label Honor The Gift.