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10 richest players in the NBA

LeBron James (#23) of the LA Lakers
LeBron James (#23) of the LA Lakers

The NBA is one of the biggest sports leagues in the world and its athletes, accordingly, earn substantial amounts of money due to their tremendous talent and physical ability. Due to the league's global exposure, the best NBA players also get lots of chances to enhance their brand and their earnings.

Of Forbes' 100 highest-paid athletes of 2020, the NBA had the most athletes in the entire list, and six were in the Top 20.

10 richest players, former and current, in the NBA in 2021

In this article, we dive deep into the NBA athletes of the past and of the modern-day that have achieved substantial economic status throughout their NBA career. In the case of former players, we also examine their investments and endorsements after they stopped playing in the world's biggest basketball league.


#10 Luol Deng

Luol Deng of Great Britain.
Luol Deng of Great Britain.

Possibly a surprising name on this list, former NBA player Luol Deng's time in the entrepreneurial world has gone as well as his best NBA days. Deng has an estimated net worth of $200 million, according to several sources.

He played in the NBA from 2004 to 2019, and he earned over $150 million. In 2016, Deng signed a four-year, $72-million deal that was the biggest of his career and one that is still earning him money from the LA Lakers.

Deng was a two-time All-Star in his NBA career and was also selected to the All-Defensive team in the 2011-12 NBA season.

Apart from his playing career, Deng established a huge portfolio with real estate investments since 2004.


#9 Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon.
Hakeem Olajuwon.

Hakeem Olajuwon entered the NBA in 1984 and had a Hall-of-Fame career until he retired in 2002. Olajuwon guided the Houston Rockets to two NBA championships in the 1990s and earned two Finals MVP trophies, one regular-season MVP and two Defensive Player of the Year awards.

A 12-time All-Star and 12-time All-NBA player, Olajuwon earned more than $97 million during his playing career. Outside of basketball, Olajuwon launched his DR34M clothing line and also invested heavily in real estate. His estimated net worth is around $200 million.


#8 David Robinson

Former NBA player David Robinson.
Former NBA player David Robinson.

"The Admiral" David Robinson played in the NBA from 1989 until 2003, and was one of the most decorated big men of his era and in NBA history. With the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson won two NBA Championships, one regular-season MVP and a Defensive Player of the Year award, among other accolades.

Robinson has made a big impact in the business world with his Admiral Capital Group and several investments which have made benefits for the San Antonio community. He also has a real estate fund in San Antonio which has been quite successful.

In his NBA career, the Hall-of-Famer earned over $110 million. His net worth is around $200 million, according to several sources.


#7 Grant Hill

Hill with the Phoenix Suns in 2009.
Hill with the Phoenix Suns in 2009.

Grant Hill's basketball career was surely destined for big and amazing things before injuries cut his NBA tenure short. Still, Hill reached star status in the league, and earned more than $140 million in his 19-year career.

Though Hill earned a lot during his NBA career, his tally only ranks 69th in NBA history among players. However, Hill has been a successful figure in business, and has an estimated net worth of $250 million. His real estate company, Hill Ventures, was created in 1994.

Hill and investor Tony Ressler teamed up in 2015 to buy the Atlanta Hawks for $850, according to Forbes. As Atlanta's co-owner, Hill appears on NBA.com as the Hawks' Vice-Chair of the Board.


#6 Vinnie Johnson

Johnson with the Detroit Pistons.
Johnson with the Detroit Pistons.

Vinnie Johnson was a good piece for the 'Bad Boy' Detroit Pistons in the late 1980s and 1990s, as he won two titles with the team and even got his jersey number (15) retired. However, he only made a little over $6 million in his playing career (1979-1992).

Still, Johnson is recognized as one of the richest NBA players ever, because of his investments, and mainly his automotive supplier Piston Group, which he founded in 1996. He is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company, and has a net worth of roughly $400 million.


#5 Shaquille O'Neal

Pepsi Stronger Together kicks off with Orlando Magic And Shaquille O'Neal Foundation at Harbor House Of Central Florida.
Pepsi Stronger Together kicks off with Orlando Magic And Shaquille O'Neal Foundation at Harbor House Of Central Florida.

Shaquille O'Neal is a great example of a legendary NBA player who is still marketable and that recognition continues to help him in the business world in a tremendous way.

O'Neal had a glorious 19-year career in the NBA, winning four titles, three Finals MVP, one regular-season MVPs, and 14 All-NBA selections, among other accolades. He also earned a lot through his NBA contracts, as he ranks fifth in career earnings with over $286 million.

However, O'Neal has remained a great businessman even 10 years after retiring, and has a net worth of $400 million due to several investments in food and real estate businesses. He's also entered into music, acting, and multiple endorsements, now that he is a member of TNT's basketball show 'Inside the NBA'.


#4 LeBron James

LeBron James #23 of the LA Lakers.
LeBron James #23 of the LA Lakers.

LeBron James is 'The King' of the basketball court, and is also a king off the hardcourt. James has built an extraordinary career in all levels, and he is mostly unblemished as a player and a businessman.

Throughout his 18-year NBA career, James has earned the most money through salaries in league history, and he is set to earn even more in the upcoming years. He has been paid more than $346 million from his contracts, has a net worth of around $500 million, and total career earnings close to $1 billion.

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James' investments include an ownership stake in English football team Liverpool, and his endorsement deals include a lifetime contract with Nike, and a recent deal with Pepsi.


#3 Magic Johnson

NBA Hall of Fame player and Los Angeles Dodgers part owner Magic Johnson.
NBA Hall of Fame player and Los Angeles Dodgers part owner Magic Johnson.

Magic Johnson is partly responsible for the NBA's explosion during the 1980s, and he has always been a marketable person due to his charisma and greatness on the court.

Johnson played in 12 NBA seasons from 1979 to 1991, when he left the league after contracting HIV. He returned to play in the 1995-96 NBA season, but retired at the end of the year.

Magic made over $39 million during his playing career, but has been successful in entrepreneurship. His investment firm, Magic Johnson Enterprises, has been extremely profitable for the former point guard, and he has been a big supporter of small businesses. Moreover, Johnson is part of the ownership group of the reigning champions of the baseball World Series LA Dodgers.

Magic's net worth is estimated to be approximately $600 million.


#2 Junior Bridgeman

NBA basketball legends (L-R) Junior Bridgeman and John Salley pose with Michael Strahan of the NFL's New York Giants in 2007.
NBA basketball legends (L-R) Junior Bridgeman and John Salley pose with Michael Strahan of the NFL's New York Giants in 2007.

The most shocking name on this list for many basketball fans, Junior Bridgeman had a good NBA career that lasted for 12 years with the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers, between 1975 and 1987.

Bridgeman averaged 13.6 points per game in his career and was usually a bench player on his teams and appeared in 849 regular-season games. The era and his status did not allow Bridgeman to earn an impressive amount of money (compared to current NBA players), his highest salary for a single season was $350,000.

However, Bridgeman entered the restaurant business after retiring, and has a net worth of $600 million, mostly coming from investments in the Wendy's franchise. He also owns a Coca-Cola bottling company.


#1 Michael Jordan

Charlotte Hornets owner, Michael Jordan.
Charlotte Hornets owner, Michael Jordan.

Without a single doubt, Michael Jordan has been the most marketable and impactful player in terms of businesses in NBA history. Though LeBron James' influence is reaching other levels that Jordan never touched in his career, such as politics, Jordan remains the most marketable NBA player ever, and is the richest too.

Jordan had a glorious NBA career as he won six NBA championships, six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs, and a Defensive Player of the Year award with the Chicago Bulls between 1984 and 1998.

Off the court, Jordan built an empire through his Jordan brand and is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. He has also invested in several companies, and most recently launched a NASCAR team.

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Jordan has generated $3.6 billion-in-revenue brand for Nike since his playing days, and Nike reportedly pays Jordan $130 million per year, according to Forbes.

Jordan's net worth is around $1.6 billion. Though the number dropped from the estimated $2.2 billion of 2020, Jordan remains the richest athlete in the world, and ranks in 1926 place among the world's billionaires, according to Forbes.


Also Read: Michael Jordan’s net worth, salary, endorsements and more

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Edited by Parimal
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