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5 highest-paid NBA players of all time

Los Angeles Lakers vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Modified 20 Dec 2020, 02:33 IST

With Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supermax extension set to take him on a career trajectory of being one of the highest-paid NBA players ever, there has been much talk about the cumulative salaries of the biggest NBA stars.

Currently Lebron James leads the present pack by a comprehensive margin. On that note, let us have a look at where he ranks among the highest-paid NBA players of all time.

Five most well-paid NBA players of all time

NBA players are some of the most well-paid athletes in the world. On that note, let us have a look at the top five earners in competition history.

#5 Shaquille O' Neal - $286.3 million

Shaquille O
Shaquille O' Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is one of the highest-paid NBA players ever. He won the NBA championship four times, with three of those rings with the LA Lakers in the early 2000s.


O’Neal started his career at Orlando Magic before moving to the Lakers and then to the Miami Heat where he won his fourth championship in 2006.

After further moves to the Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, O'Neal's total earnings soared to around $286.3 million, putting him fifth in the list of the highest ever earners in NBA history.

#4 Chris Paul - $299.9 million

Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers
Houston Rockets v Los Angeles Clippers

Apart form Lebron James, the only active player in the NBA who has managed to make this list is point guard Chris Paul.

Paul started his NBA career with the New Orleans Hornets in 2005 and has played for four other teams since then.


In 2011, Chris Paul moved to the LA Clippers, where he stayed for six years, before moving to the Houston Rockets in 2017.

However, with various issues marring his Rockets stint, including a disagreement with their star James Harden, Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russel Westbrook.

#3 Kobe Bryant - $323 million

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant

Considered as one of the greatest NBA players ever, Kobe Bryant was tragically killed in January 2020 in a helicopter crash.

Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the LA Lakers. During this time, he made the NBA All-star team a whopping 18 times, won the championship five times and was the NBA MVP once.


Despite not having moved to antoher team throughout his career, Bryant was one of the highest earners in the history of the NBA, earning around $323 million.

Since then, he has moved to the Pheonix Suns, bringing his overall earning up to $299.9 million as of now.

#2 Kevin Garnett - $334.3 million

Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks - Game Two
Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks - Game Two

Kevin Garnett played in the NBA for 21 seasons. He is one of four NBA players to have won both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Garnett is known as one of the greatest power forwards of all time and both started and ended his career at the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kevin Garnett moved from the Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics in 2007, winning the NBA championship with the latter in 2008. In 2013, he moved from the Celtics to the Brooklyn Nets before he returned to the Timberwolves, where he finished his career in 2016,


He earned around $334.3 million during his career.

#1 Lebron James - $343.8 million

LeBron James
LeBron James

In what will come as little surprise, it is 4-time NBA champion and 4-time MVP Lebron James who tops this list with total earnings of around $343.8 million until now.

Since his 2010 move to the Miami Heat from Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James has had two further moves: one a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and another to the LA Lakers in 2018.

James is the first-ever NBA player to win the championship with three different teams while he is also the best-earning player in the history of the competition. With a few more years left in his career, James will probably end up consolidating his position as the best-ever earner of all time in the NBA.

Players such as Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo and even James Harden all appear to have a good chance of displacing some big names in this list during the coming years. 

Published 20 Dec 2020, 02:33 IST
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