LeBron James Tops Forbes’ List of Highest-Paid NBA Stars — Thanks in Large Part to Nike

NBA salaries may be high, but they aren’t the only moneymaker for the league’s best-known players. The key to an overflowing bank account? Sneakers.

LeBron James topped the Forbes list of the NBA’s Highest-Paid Players for 2019-20, with $92 million, the highest amount ever recorded by an active NBA player. The bulk of that haul ($55 million) came from off-court work, notably James’ Nike deal, for which he reportedly earns $30 million a year. James has a slew of additional sponsorships, including contracts with Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, Walmart and Rimowa.

With $30 million a year, King James has the most expensive shoe deal in the NBA. Kevin Durant has the second-highest sneaker contract payout, with an estimated $26 million from Nike this season. Durant’s total income is a reported $73 million, putting him at No. 3 on the list.

Despite earning less than Durant on sneakers, Stephen Curry is the No. 2 highest-paid star in the league. The Golden State Warrior will purportedly bring home $85 million this year, about half of that ($40.2 million) from his on-court work. Of Curry’s $45 million from off-court work, roughly half is the result of his contract with Under Armour.

Nike sponsors the most top-paid NBA stars of any athletic brand, with four of the top 10 athletes (James, Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kyrie Irving) signed to the Swoosh. Two work with Adidas (Damian Lillard and James Harden), while two partner with Jordan Brand (Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul). Curry is the only UA athlete, and Klay Thompson is aligned with Anta, a Chinese athleticwear giant.

Here is the full list of the top 10 highest-earning NBA stars for 2019–2020 below:

  1. LeBron James — $92.4 million ($37.4 million from salary, $55 million from endorsements)
  2. Stephen Curry — $85.2 million ($40.2 million from salary, $45 million from endorsements)
  3. Kevin Durant — $73.2 million ($38.2 million from salary, $35 million from endorsements)
  4. Russell Westbrook — $56.5 million ($38.5 million from salary, $18 million from endorsements)
  5. James Harden — $55.2 million ($38.2 million from salary, $17 million from endorsements)
  6. Kyrie Irving — $51.7 million ($31.7 million from salary, $20 million from endorsements)
  7. Klay Thompson — $47.7 million ($32.7 million from salary, $15 million from endorsements)
  8. Chris Paul — $46.5 million ($38.5 million from salary, $8 million from endorsements)
  9. Giannis Antetokounmpo — $45.8 million ($25.8 million from salary, $20 million from endorsements)
  10. Damian Lillard — $43.8 million ($29.8 million from salary, $14 million from endorsements)

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