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LeBron James third highest earning athlete in America

Jun 16, 2011, 1:53 PM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six Getty Images

LeBron James shouldn’t flaunt that after he loses in the NBA finals he goes back to living a charmed life and we go back to our lives… but the dude is raking it in.

According to Sports Illustrated, LeBron is the third highest earning athlete in the United States in 2011. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson topped the list (Tiger still made $60 million in endorsements this year… damn).

LeBron made $14.5 million in salary and $30 million in endorsements, according to Forbes. LeBron’s endorsement money is only likely to go up in future years, especially if he can win a ring.

Other NBA players on the list: Kobe Bryant (No. 6 at $34.8 million), Kevin Garnett (No. 7 at $32.8 million), Dwight Howard (No. 10 at $28.7 million), Dwyane Wade (No. 11 at $28.2 million), Amar’e Stoudemire (No. 16 at $24.5 million), Carmelo Anthony (No. 21 at $23.5 million), Tim Duncan (No. 24 at $22.3 million), Vince Carter (No. 27 at $20.5 million), Rashard Lewis (No. 29 at $20.3 million), Kevin Durant (No. 31 at $20.1 million), Michael Redd (No 34 at $18.6 million), Gilbert Arenas (No. 36 at $18 million), Zach Randolph (No. 37 at $17.8 million), Kenyon Martin (No. 40 at $16.8 million), Joe Johnson (No. 43 at $16.6 million), Elton Brand (No. 45 at $16.6 million), Paul Pierce (No. 49 at $15.7 million) and Chris Bosh (No. 50 at $15.5 million).

Which says a couple things about the NBA and the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

First, there are a lot of NBA players on that list — 19 of them, 38 percent of the list was from the NBA. That was more than any other sport (16 from Major League Baseball, nine from the NFL). On one hand this plays into the owners’ arguments that NBA players are making more than their counterparts and salaries need to be rolled back, contract lengths shortened.

Look at some of the names on the list — Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, Rashard Lewis — guys who cannot produce at that level anymore.

But this also shows that what the owners really want in this CBA is a system to protect them from themselves. Who gave out these ridiculous contracts? The Hawks just put Joe Johnson on that list and he will be there for the next five years as well — how is the player to blame for this? Why should an owner who makes a bad contract decision just have a “get out of jail free” card?

The thing is LeBron, Kobe, Garnett, Howard, Stoudemire and the guys at the very top are a bargain — what they generate for the team in terms of ticket sales, television ratings, jersey sales and the like far outweigh what they are paid from their teams. What hurts the owners (aside no revenue sharing to speak of) is bad contracts and overpaying the middle class of players. And that’s reflected on this list as much as great players.

  1. Justin - Jun 16, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Wow, Rashard Lewis and Gilbert Arenas are overpaid.

  2. acharlot5 - Jun 16, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    yea its easy to say that in hindsite.. but lets not forget about how good arenas was when he signed that contract right now he is overpaid but when he signed it he earned it.. rashard on the other hand just got lucky that year in free agency when the magic signed him

  3. skip3525 - Jun 16, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    So no one has a problem with Michael Redd being on here?
    When was the last time he even played at least 10 games?

  4. thetooloftools - Jun 16, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    I hope your happy raking in the ca$h because your not raking in the rings like you said you were going to do.
    Folks need to remember he wanted to be the center of attention his entire career. Now that the attention is negative he feels like he’s being targeted.
    LeBron, you can’t have it both ways.
    You can’t blame your teammates for no support now like you did in Cleveland…. but people are blaming you.
    See what happened was after a loss Wade said “they didn’t get me the ball enough in the 4th qtr”.
    You remembered that, took it personal, acted like a child, and shut it down to prove Wade COULDN”T carry the load in the 4th.
    Nice job.
    It cost you everything you worked for all season long for…. but hey, you proved your point.
    Your KARMA is just beginning LeBron.
    Hope you enjoy the money.
    Don’t buy a jewelry box any time soon.

  5. harsh22 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    Agreed, the top guys are no problem, Vince Carter are you kidding me!!!!!

  6. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    I think this list on this article is incorrect, j saw forbes top 50 athletes and it was #1 tiger at 75 million #2 kobe at 53 mill # 3 lebron at 48 mill #4 phil mickleson at 46.5 mill so whats up here

  7. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    Ohh my bad this is sports illustrated list i saw forbes.

    • 00maltliquor - Jun 17, 2011 at 2:08 AM

      Irregardless, shouldn’t both magazines have the same info? Someones wrong here. Forbes, S.I. or……Kurt? He is known for an infanate amount of typos.

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