lebron james


Published on September 5, 2023
Written by Bob Whitsitt

In 2011, a group led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer purchased the Philadelphia 76ers franchise for approximately $280 million.

Fast forward a dozen years. Now $280 million is the amount the “average superstar” player is paid in salary during their playing career. At the completion of the 2023/24 NBA season twenty-two current NBA players will have earned more than $250 million from their standard NBA contracts. Any money these players have earned in endorsements and other business interests are in addition to their team salaries.

Prior to this group of twenty-two, only a select number of Hall of Fame players had career earnings in excess of $250 million. This list includes Kevin Garnett ($343 million), Kobe Bryant ($323 million), Shaquille O’Neal ($292 million), Carmelo Anthony ($266 million), and Dirk Nowitzki ($255 million).

“Club 250” will continue to grow because many young stars are on track to surpass the quarter of a billion mark in the next few years. Since more players will be earning annual salaries exceeding $60 million, I think it is time for the NBA to consider letting players own a piece of the team they are playing for.

Owners should have the right to issue restricted equity to players in lieu of salaries. If a player is traded his equity will remain in his financial portfolio.

The NBA has always been an innovative league, and this would be another bold step. Franchise ownership for players will be the ultimate partnership and a win/win for everyone.

Career earnings of active players following 2023/24 season:

  1. LeBron James- $482 million
  2. Kevin Durant- $405 million
  3. Chris Paul- $391 million
  4. Steph Curry- $358 million
  5. Russell Westbrook- $343 million
  6. James Harden- $340 million
  7. Paul George- $307 million
  8. Damian Lillard- $280 million
  9. Kawhi Leonard- $279 million
  10. Al Horford- $279 million
  11. Kyle Lowry- $275 million
  12. Kyrie Irving- $273 million
  13. Mike Conley- $273 million
  14. Kevin Love- $272 million
  15.  Gordon Haywood- $270 million
  16. Klay Thompson- $270 million
  17. Anthony Davis- $269 million
  18. Bradley Beal- $269 million
  19. Jimmy Butler- $264 million
  20. DeMar DeRozan- $258 million
  21. Blake Griffin- $258 million
  22. Tobias Harris- $251 million

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