Skip to content

LeBron, Kobe lead Forbes top 10 list of NBA endorsers

Feb 19, 2014, 10:14 AM EST

Lebron James,Kobe Bryant,  Andre Iguodala AP

Forbes released its top 10 list of off-the-court NBA earners this week, and not surprisingly, a couple of the game’s biggest stars lead the pack.

Before we get to the complete list, something stands out when looking at the dollars the top NBA athletes rake in, especially when compared to other sports’ stars.

Thanks to basketball boasting the biggest shoe sponsorship deals, no one comes close to making as much in total sponsorship dollars as NBA players do, and that includes sports that are more popular — like the NFL in the U.S., and soccer internationally.

From Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes:

And the gap between NBA players and others in team sports all starts with the shoes. The NBA’s biggest stars can command more than $10 million annually from Nike and Adidas. Nike represents almost half James’ off-court income, and James was the NBA’s leading shoe salesman in 2013 with $300 million in retail sales in the U.S. of his Nike signature shoes, according to research firm SportsOneSource. Rose signed a 13-year, $185 million contract with Adidas in 2012. A $1 million a year shoe deal is extremely rare for an NFL or MLB star. Basketball players move product unlike their counterparts in other sports.

Basketball players can also take advantage of the global nature of the sport. Bryant has made trips to China the past eight years for Nike and he is one of the brand’s main chips in its battle against Adidas in China. Bryant partnered with Turkish Airlines in 2010 and has been featured in commercials with global soccer star Lionel Messi. James’ Dunkin’ Donuts deal is for Asia only, and he entered into a new partnership with Chinese Internet services firm Tencent last year. These deals are not available to football and baseball players.

And now, the list:

Player/total endorsement income/shoe sponsor

LeBron James: $42 million (Nike)

Kobe Bryant: $34 million (Nike)

Derrick Rose: $21 million (Adidas)

Kevin Durant: $14 million (Nike)

Dwyane Wade: $12 million (Li Ning)

Carmelo Anthony: $9 million (Jordan/Nike)

Amar’e Stoudemire: $6.5 million (Nike)

Dwight Howard: $6 million (Adidas)

Blake Griffin: $6 million (Jordan/Nike)

Chris Paul: $4 million (Jordan/Nike)

Remember, the shoe sponsor noted isn’t where all of the income originates, but it’s certainly where the bulk of it comes from. Stoudemire’s ranking is a function of him playing in New York, and for NBA players seeking a bigger piece of the sponsorship pie, there’s a reason free agent stars flock to large markets.

Only Kevin Durant plays in a smaller one, and although Miami technically fits the bill, the pairing of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the same team, along with the exposure the Heat has gotten in winning consecutive titles, certainly has made them high-profile stars where sponsors are concerned.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Celtics may keep Tayshaun Prince if he’s not traded by the deadline

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Boston Celtics v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Brad Stevens reportedly likes Prince, so a buyout may not be in the cards.

  2. Derek Fisher didn’t realize motivating his players would be such a big part of being an NBA head coach

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Derek Fisher AP

    Fisher played 18 years, and claims that his motivation always came from within.

  3. After being fined for obscene gesture, Dwyane Wade asks NBA to improve on ways it protects players from fans

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade was fined for flipping off some fans who he believed crossed the line.

  4. Dwight Howard leaves arena in walking boot after suffering ankle injury against Suns

    Jan 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Dwight Howard AP

    Howard left the game after just eight minutes and did not return.

  5. LaMarcus Aldridge decides to delay surgery, will return for Blazers Saturday vs. Wizards

    Jan 24, 2015, 3:17 PM EST

    Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Aldridge has a tear in his left thumb, and was originally set to be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

  6. Report: Cavaliers players say they ‘had lost faith’ due to lack of depth and roster construction

    Jan 24, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Before recent trades, players believed the team would go no further than the second round of the playoffs.

  7. James Harden hits step-back game winner to beat Suns (VIDEO)

    Jan 24, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    James Harden, Isaiah Thomas AP

    That is as good a step-back jumper as you will see.

  8. Kobe Bryant will be back next season, he can’t resist the challenge

    Jan 24, 2015, 2:00 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    There are $25 million Kobe will be back next season.

  9. If injury is serious, it would go against history for Kobe to be productive again

    Jan 24, 2015, 12:16 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Lakers star could also above and beyond and chase Michael Jordan’s comeback

  10. Kevin Durant: ‘I don’t need the All-Star vote to validate me as a player’

    Jan 23, 2015, 10:15 PM EST

    Kevin Durant AP

    It’s a good thing, because he received fewer votes than Marcin Gortat.

  11. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle: ‘Monta Ellis deserves to be an All-Star’

    Jan 23, 2015, 9:15 PM EST

    Brooklyn Nets v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Maybe, but the field is simply too crowded in the West for Ellis to have a reasonable shot.

  12. Photographer sues Nike over use of iconic Michael Jordan dunk image

    Jan 23, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Michael Jordan dunk Getty Images

    I’m no expert in copyright law, but this strikes me as the kind of lawsuit that gets settled out of court.

  13. Rumor: Tobias Harris “wants to win a championship with the Knicks’’

    Jan 23, 2015, 7:15 PM EST

    Tobias Harris AP

    So he plans to play for the Knicks until 2050?

  14. Iman Shumpert active for Cavaliers, expected to make Cleveland debut Friday vs. Hornets

    Jan 23, 2015, 6:15 PM EST

    Miami Heat v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Shumpert was acquired as part of the deal that sent Dion Waiters to OKC.

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (8606)
  2. D. Wade (8073)
  3. A. Davis (7941)
  4. L. Aldridge (7410)
  5. J. Noah (6956)
  1. J. Holiday (6917)
  2. R. Rubio (6764)
  3. K. Martin (6634)
  4. T. Harris (6454)
  5. D. Cousins (6445)