Michael Jordan and LeBron James are two of the richest athletes in the United States, let alone the NBA. “His Airness” became the first athlete to make the Forbes 400 list following the $3 billion sale of the Charlotte Hornets in June. “King James” is the first active player to be worth $1 billion and shows no signs of stopping. Career salaries and endorsement deals have placed former and current NBA players among the richest players in the world. Some of them are expected to maintain this status in the coming years.
The NBA is more popular than ever and salaries are astronomically high. Stephen Curry ($52 million) and Kevin Durant ($47.6 million) are the two highest-paid players next season. Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and James ($47.6 million) round out the top five.
Some former players also fall into this viable group thanks to shrewd business dealings.
Here are some of the richest NBA players of all time
#5 Shaquille O’Neal
Arguably the most dominant force in the NBA is also one of the richest. Shaquille O’Neal is reportedly worth approximately $400 million. Shaq retired after the 2010-11 season after one year with the Boston Celtics.
O’Neal earned $286 million during his 19-year NBA career. Since hanging up his jersey, he has become one of the savviest businessmen around.
The Los Angeles Lakers icon has an impressive business portfolio. He has also quickly become one of the most popular DJs and music producers.
#4 Kobe Bryant
Had it not been for the late Kobe Bryant’s untimely death in 2020, he might have ranked higher on this list. He was reportedly worth $600 million at the time of his death.
The “Black Mamba” earned more than half of his wealth during his NBA career, amassing $323 million. Kobe has also signed endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Hublot and other companies.
#3 Magic Johnson
Another Los Angeles Lakers icon ranks third on this list. Magic Johnson’s net worth is approximately $630 million. Unlike Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Johnson’s NBA career wasn’t that lucrative.
Johnson earned $39.3 million throughout his professional basketball career. In the 2013-14 season alone, Kobe earned a salary of $30.4 million. The “Lakers Show” has amassed wealth off the basketball court.
A large portion of Magic Johnson’s investments are in sports, and he now co-owns the Washington Commanders, Los Angeles Football Club, Los Angeles Sparks and Los Angeles Dodgers. He is reportedly open to more ownership in the New York Knicks.
#2 LeBron James
In June 2022, LeBron James officially became a billionaire. He is the first active player to achieve this feat. When James’ contract with the Los Angeles Lakers ends in the 2024-25 season, he will earn a staggering $530 million, the most lucrative in NBA history.
“King James” built a business empire and made more money off the court than on it. His salary next year is $47.6 million, far less than what he earned as a businessman.
LeBron James wants to own a team in Las Vegas when he retires. When that happens, he could become a serious challenger to the top of this list.
#1 Michael Jordan
Decades after his retirement, Michael Jordan continues to dominate the NBA. Forbes named him to its annual Fortune 400 list, becoming the first athlete to reach this milestone.
Jordan’s shoe line isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and he’s still working on different ventures. The Chicago Bulls legend has been heavily criticized for his tenure as owner of the Charlotte Hornets. “His Air” had the last laugh, having just sold a majority stake for $3 billion.
Michael Jordan accumulated $93 million in salary over 16 seasons. He signed a $2.5 million contract with Nike during his rookie year. Over the years, his revenue from the shoe company has exceeded $1 billion. It doesn’t look like he’s going to give up the throne anytime soon.