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LeBron second highest paid athlete in America, Kobe fourth

May 15, 2013, 1:51 PM EDT

2012 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

The answer is $56.5 million.

If you wondered how much money LeBron James made last year, there is the answer to your query.

That is the second most of any athlete in the United States, according to Sports Illustrated and its annual Top 50 earners report that came out Wednesday. LeBron trailed only Floyd Mayweather ($90 million). But there are a dozen other NBA players in the top 50 — it pays to be very good at basketball. It pays very well.

In LeBron’s case he made $17.5 million in salary (remember he took a little less than the max) and had $39 million in endorsement dollars. As I tried to tell the LeBron haters after “The Decision” — winning cures all ills in American sports and if he won his legacy and endorsements would be virtually undamaged. They are. Last year he picked up a Samsung deal as well as Baskin-Robbins, that is on top of his massive Nike deal.

What’s strange is he doesn’t have a signature commercial right now. Seriously, when was the last good LeBron commercial?

Kobe Bryant comes in at fourth on the SI list, thanks in part to his cap-destroying 27.8 million in salary last season (that jumps to $30 million next season, so expect him back on the list). He also still has $19 million in endorsements. He’s got a sweet Nike deal, too.

Third among NBA players and seventh overall on the SI list is Derrick Rose. And the entire city of Chicago rolled its eyes at once. He made $16.4 million in salary and had $17 million in endorsements thanks to a massive Adidas deal.

The other NBA players on the list (and their rank on the SI standings):

11. Dwyane Wade, $28.7 million
12. Kevin Durant, $27.7 million
16. Carmelo Anthony, $25.3 million
24. Amar’e Stoudemire, $23.5 million
31. Dwight Howard, $21.9 million
33. Chris Paul, $21.6 million
35. Dirk Nowitzki, $21.3 million
37. Pau Gasol, $21.1 million
43. Joe Johnson, $19.95 million
47. Chris Bosh, $18.5 million

For comparison’s sake, there are 25 baseball players and eight football players on the list.

  1. 4thquartermagic - May 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Amare and Joe Johnson have the best agents in the world apparently.

    • cmehustle - May 16, 2013 at 5:21 PM


  2. angulocarlos1 - May 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Lol @ rose, what a waste of an endorsement for Adidas

  3. azarkhan - May 15, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    Time to take money from all those rich one-percenters! (right, Dumbocrats?)

    • phaden27 - May 15, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      The Fox News commenting section is that way.

    • jimeejohnson - May 15, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Wrong, right wing bass-turd.

    • deadeyedesign23 - May 16, 2013 at 12:39 AM

      Yeah I guess it’s too bad that the people benefitting from the current NBA labor deal are the owners not the players here. On an open market LeBron would be worth 50 million a year before endorsements, but because owners act like little sisters of the poor they cap player salaries to they can make labor subsidize teams in markets that can’t support them.

  4. loungefly74 - May 15, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    i bet MJ would in the top ten if the list included retired athletes…

    wow…basketball players should be kissing their union reps…them and baseball have very friendly player contracts…

    fun list…good article!

  5. bucrightoff - May 15, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Amare and Joe Johnson should be required to go with the ski mask and a gun when they pick up their checks

  6. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 15, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    LeBron is vastly underpaid. Don’t believe me? Let say he was an unrestricted fee agent and there was no Salary Cap. He’d get a $50-$75 million offer, per year. Maybe more. And you know it’s true. Plus his endorsements. CRAZY underpaid.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 15, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      Same rules for every other NBA player, I can’t see any team offering anybody $25mil per year, except Durant. And $25mil would probably be as high as he should get.

    • musician0785 - May 15, 2013 at 3:08 PM

      50-75 million a year? You need to step away from the drugs and get Lebron’s balls out your mouth…..the current cap is 58 mil, no way some1 would give lebron 3/4 of the cap….they wouldnt be able to field a team…..

      • mckaymatt - May 15, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        Maybe you should lay off the drugs, that or improve your reading comprehension…” Let say he was an unrestricted fee agent and there was no Salary Cap”…

      • musician0785 - May 15, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        i understood what he was saying perfectly, my point was that no team would pay him what would amount to 3/4 of the CURRENT

      • musician0785 - May 15, 2013 at 5:22 PM

        i understood what he was saying perfectly, my point was that no team would pay him what would amount to 3/4 of the CURRENT salary cap……nice try tho

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 15, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        Yes they would. Besides the Heat, Knicks, Lakers, Cavs, Mavs, Nets, Clips (maybe), whomever buys the Kings; basically anyone who cares about their team and their fans. Even at $75 million, whomever pays him that is making a sound business decision.

        Ask Mr. Wright. If he knew that the highest bidder for LeBron right now was $75 million, would he want his Knicks to offer $76 million?

    • cantonbound13 - May 15, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      Your crush on LeBron has gone too far. I hope your wife handles the finances for you at home.

      • 1972sxwife - May 15, 2013 at 7:25 PM

        He’s not only clueless when it comes sports.

    • melkipershero - May 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      The Cavs worth went down 26% the year after Lebron. They were also one of eight team to lose value after this recent lockout.

      • melkipershero - May 15, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        Also. The Heats value rose $60 after signing Lebron. From $365 million to $425 million. They are worth $625 million today.

        The Cavs are worth $434 million today and were worth $369 million in 2010

        Based on Lebrons impact to a franchises value he really has unlimited NBA salary potential. I would guess hed make $30-$35 million in an uncapped NBA.

      • deadeyedesign23 - May 16, 2013 at 12:47 AM

        On Planet Money they estimated he;d be getting 40 million on the open market.

  7. dgbk - May 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    50-75 mil a year is not that crazy ,Jordan was paid 30- 35 mil a yr his last few Chicago yrs….. I’m sure lebron will get at least 50 mil 15 yrs later if it was uncapped.

    Wade makes a lot of money sad he is not the same player.

  8. malvaren18 - May 15, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    Where is Peyton Manning on this list, he should be in the top 10 at least.

    • asimonetti88 - May 15, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      He’s number 8 at $31 million. $18 in salary and $13 million in endorsements.

      1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. – $90,000,000
      2. LeBron James – $56,545,000
      3. Drew Brees – $47,800,000
      4. Kobe Bryant – $46,850,000
      5. Tiger Woods – $40,839,027
      6. Phil Mickelson – $39,528,630
      7. Derrick Rose – $33,403,000
      8. Peyton Manning – $31,000,000
      9. Alex Rodriguez – $29,900,000
      10. Zach Greinke – $29,020,000

  9. elnogo - May 15, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    If people complain about the “super teams” now can you imagine without salary cap???? I think it would be a really unbalanced league.

  10. southbeachtalent - May 15, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    So D. Rose is the highest paid Assistant Coach?

  11. readysethike - May 15, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Bynum should be somewhere on that list, didn’t he make more then $17 million from his NBA salary plus his $10 million endorsement deal with hoveraround

    • 4thquartermagic - May 15, 2013 at 6:32 PM

      “Thanks to Hoveround, for little or no cost to me, I can now go from the training room to the bank with ZERO assistance.”

      -Andrew Bynum.

  12. jimeejohnson - May 15, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    These guys pay out a lot in taxes; they don’t want to end up like Wesley Snipes.

  13. northstarnic - May 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    What are the numbers on his deal with Summer’s Eve? He’s such a great representative for their fine products!

  14. glink123 - May 15, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Per Yahoo Sports:

    Jordan earned an estimated $80 million last year from corporate partners Nike,Gatorade, Hanes, Upper Deck, 2K Sports, Presbyterian Healthcare and Five Star Fragrances. Other Jordan assets include six restaurants, a North Carolina car dealership, a motorsports team and his 80-percent stake in the Charlotte Bobcats. Jordan out-earns almost every member of the world’s highest-paid athletes 10 years after his last NBA game.
    The Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, is responsible for the vast majority of MJ’s earnings. The terms of Jordan’s current deal with Nike are a closely guarded secret, but according to sources, royalties now generate more than $60 million annually for MJ.

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