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Kings Of The Court: The 10 Richest NBA Players Ever

The NBA is the most followed sports league in the world. Its players, both past and present, are global superstars. Thanks to huge player salaries and lucrative business deals, many of them also happen to be incredibly rich. Let’s break down the 10 richest NBA players of all time…

10. Kevin Durant – $300 million net worth

Kevin Durant at the House of Hoops
Image credit: Alexis Marcou/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

One of the NBA’s most lethal scorers, Kevin Durant is also among the league’s best paid athletes. Insider reported that Durant has earned over $300 million, making him the third highest paid NBA player of all time. 

Now playing for the Phoenix Suns, Durant is searching for his next NBA championship since leaving the Golden State Warriors in 2019. The intervening years had been difficult with Durant’s old team, the Brooklyn Nets, who struggled to make an impact during the playoffs

Off the court, Durant’s success has been more consistent. Each year he earns millions through investments with his company, 35 Ventures. He’s also secured endorsement deals with Coinbase, NBA Top Shot and Weedmaps.

Durant is also a Nike sponsored athlete. Interestingly, his contract with the shoe company includes a $50 million kicker that will be gifted to him when he retires. 

9. Grant Hill – $300 million net worth

Grant Hill
Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Earning over $100 million during his basketball career set Grant Hill up for success when he retired in 2013. Taking advice from his ex-NFL playing father, Hill made sure to not squander his earnings and turned his fortune into a real estate empire. 

Today, his company, Hill Ventures, has developed over $200 million worth of projects. 

Outside of real estate, Hill is a co-owner of NBA franchise The Atlanta Hawks. He also owns a large portfolio of art works created by Black artists. 

Hill even organized a three year, seven city tour of his personal art collection in the hope it would inspire other Black Americans. 

After being admitted to the Hall of Fame in 2018, Hill signed a lifetime deal with shoe brand Fila to recreate his line of shoes that were first released in the 1990s.

8. Hakeem Olajuwon – $300 million net worth

Another ex-NBA star that has turned to property is center, Hakeem Olajuwon. During his career, Olajuwon won two NBA Championships with the Houston Rockets. He was also the first non-American to win the MVP award.

During the final years of his career, Olajuwon began to set aside money for real estate, an important step as his faith forbids him from borrowing money via loans.

Today his portfolio is large and varied. A fact he partially attributes to the home court advantage he has when closing deals in Houston.

7. Shaquille O’Neal – $400 million net worth

Shaquille O’Neal
Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Shaq is known for his incredible size, strength, and athleticism on the court, but has also built just as large a reputation off it. This is thanks to his personality, humor, and business knowledge. 

Earning nearly $300 million during your playing career is a great way to start any retirement, but Shaq has not rested on his laurels. Instead, he has built himself into a brand, starring regularly on TNT’s coverage of the NBA as well as featuring on other TV programs, and hosting a podcast. 

Shaq also invests heavily. He has owned shares in both Google and Apple. Throughout his business career he also owned 155 Five Guys franchises. 

6. Vinnie Johnson – $500 million net worth

Unlike the other players named on this list so far, Vinnie Johnson was not a generational talent. Although he did play a key role in the Detroit Pistons back-to-back championships in 1988-89, 1989-1990. 

Nicknamed “The Microwave” for his ability to heat up an offense, Johnson’s best moment came in 1990 when he hit the championship winning shot.

However, Vinnie spent most of his career coming off the bench and only amassed career earnings of approximately $6 million.

With this money, Johnson launched an automobile supply company called Piston Automotive which eventually formed part of Johnson’s larger empire, Piston Group. 

The company supplies car parts to leading manufacturers and has long outgrown its home in Detroit. It can now be found throughout the Midwest. 

The company’s annual revenue has been recorded at an incredible $2.9 billion.

5. Kobe Bryant – $600 million net worth

Kobe Bryant
Credit: Alexandra Walt/Flickr, CC0 1.0

At the time of his death in January 2020, Kobe Bryant was worth an estimated $600 million. 

During an incredible career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant won five NBA championship rings and earned $680 million through both his salary and endorsements. 

Joining the NBA straight from high school, Bryant wasted no time making money. His first sneaker deal was a six-year contract with Adidas worth $48 million dollars. 

Of course, Bryant will always be remembered as a Nike athlete and his signature Kobe trainers are some of the most popular in the NBA.

Bryant also formed Granity Studios; a multimedia content company that won an Academy Award for an animated short film titled “Dear Basketball”. 

The Bryant empire continues to thrive despite Kobe’s untimely death. The family and Nike re-signed in 2022, meaning Bryant’s popular range of shoes will continue to be available to hoopers all around the world. 

4. Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman – $600 million net worth

Junior Bridgeman’s highest salary for a season in the NBA was only $350,000. The total earnings of his playing career amounted to just over $4 million. Yet, he is one of the richest NBA players of all time. 

Bridgeman built his incredible fortune through buying Wendy’s franchises after learning how to run the restaurants during his off seasons. 

When he sold his restaurant empire in 2016, it included approximately 250 Wendy’s franchises and 120 Chilli’s restaurants. 

Bridgeman sold his empire to become a bottler for the Coca-Cola Company. His new company, Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co. operates 17 distribution centers and employs nearly 2,500 staff members. 

Bridgeman also owns Ebony and Jet, two magazine brands which he purchased together for $14 million. 

3. LeBron James – $1 billion net worth

LeBron James
Credit: Erik Drost/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

LeBron James, the NBA’s highest ever scorer, comes in at second on our list. But he is actually the richest active NBA player.

James is a towering figure in the world of sport and is one of the most famous athletes ever. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, James has brought championships to every team he’s played for. His legacy is unrivaled in the modern game. 

Like Kobe Bryant, James joined the NBA straight from high school. Fast forward to 2022, when James signed a $97.1 million, two year contract extension with the Lakers. This made James the highest paid player in NBA history.

This has done little to diminish his earning potential off the court. Instead, James has flourished, making millions through off court business ventures and endorsements . 

Thanks to his salary, endorsements and business moves, James is the first active NBA player to be a billionaire. An achievement that is down to him taking equity in companies as opposed to cash. 

To cap it all off, James is one of only three athletes to have a lifetime Nike deal. He signed the deal in 2015 and receives $32 million from the brand annually. 

2. Magic Johnson – $1.2 billion net worth

One of the most famous NBA stars of all time, Magic Johnson’s salary earned a modest $39 million during his playing career. This was partly because the era he played in didn’t pay as much as the modern day. Another reason was the 25-year, $25 million contract he signed with the Lakers in 1984.

Despite this, Johnson has managed to build a huge fortune.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson’s business empire has been focused on sport. He used to own 4% of the Los Angeles Lakers and still owns stakes in the LA Dodgers, LA Sparks, and Los Angeles FC. 

Magic Johnson Enterprises, his investment firm, is estimated to have holdings worth $1 billion. 

However, Johnson hasn’t always made the right business move. In 1979, a small shoe brand called Nike approached him with a sponsorship opportunity. Instead of money they were offering to pay him in stocks. Johnson turned them down and stuck with Converse, losing out on millions of dollars in the long run. 

1. Michael Jordan – $3 billion net worth

Michael Jordan
Credit: mccarmona23/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Of course, it’s Michael Jordan, the six-time NBA champion, that tops our list of the richest NBA players of all time. One of the most marketed athletes ever, Jordan was the global face of the NBA from 1984 to his final retirement in 2003. 

Jordan’s total salary from his NBA career was around $90 million. But it was through Nike’s Jordan brand that he made his fortune. 

This is because Jordan takes 5% out of every Jordan Brand item sold. Marca reported that Nike sells $15 million worth of Jordan Brand items every day. So, it’s not hard to see how Jordan has reached a net worth of $3 billion.  

This isn’t to say MJ doesn’t have other sources of income. 

Jordan took over the NBA franchise The Charlotte Hornets in 2010, when they were valued at $175 million. In 2022, the franchise was valued a whopping $1.7 billion. In August 2023, Jordan sold his majority stake in the Hornets, retaining a minority share.

Jordan also owns a NASCAR team, 23XI Racing along with three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. To cap it all off, he is an investor and advisor for sportsbook DraftKings.

It’s nice to see that with all of that money, he does a lot of good:

Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other NBA articles, such as the 10 most popular NBA arenas, the average height of an NBA player, and the NBA players with the largest hands.

Lead image credit: Kip-koech/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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