Signing an endorsement helps professional basketball players earn tons of money. They get paid for appearing in advertisements and other promotional materials. These players sell various products, including clothing, shoes, and food. Athletes often earn more money from endorsement deals than from playing the game. People love to buy, use, and eat the same stuff as their favorite sportsmen.
Over the years, athletes have signed some very lucrative endorsement deals. Connecting with top athletes and developing mutually beneficial business connections has proven to be a common strategy for several businesses. Some of the biggest endorsement deals in the industry go to the top NBA players. While some players have to work hard to get to that position, others are lucky enough to have a contract in place before they even play a game.
Five Biggest Endorsement Deals in the History of Pro-Basketball
LeBron James was one of the best basketball recruits in the country, and he decided to forego college and instead become pro. It wasn’t long before the Cleveland Cavaliers picked him up and sent him to another club in the state of Ohio. Fans went berserk when he returned. James was instrumental in helping Cleveland win the NBA title. The biggest agreement he ever signed was with the shoe company Nike, but he had a few endorsement deals struck throughout the years. James makes more than $50 million every year.
Nike was one of the first businesses to see the value of sponsoring athletes and has continued to do that to this day. When Michael Jordan became a pro, he considered signing with a different firm but ultimately decided to go with Nike because of the better terms. While Nike agreed to pay him, they also allowed him to design and build his own sneaker, which he wore both on and off the court. Air Jordan became one of the most famous sneakers in history and is still popular today even though it was first introduced in 1985. Although Jordan hasn’t played for more than a decade, Forbes says he still makes more than $100 million every year from Nike.
It doesn’t matter where or how frequently Kevin Durant plays; he’ll still make a ton of money. Durant makes millions of dollars every year because of his lucrative contract with Foot Locker. In 2014, he agreed to a 10-year, $285 million contract with the sneaker brand. Profit-sharing and other circumstances help him make even more money.
Kobe Bryant retired from basketball in 2016 after a successful run with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he made more than $600 million in endorsement agreements in his career. He made even more money during his retirement years. In 2014, he inked a $75 million contract with Nike, which would pay him out for five years. After he retired from professional sports, Bryant opted to stay on to be a consultant for the firm.
The agreement that upcoming star Dwayne Wade signed with the Chinese shoe brand Li Night was one of the greatest basketball endorsement deals of all time. Wade had previously signed a contract with Nike, but he decided to leave at the time of renewal. For many years, Li Night paid him $12 million every year. Although the firm failed to earn a profit, Wade was able to walk away with millions of dollars before the agreement was terminated.
Nike was so successful with Michael Jordan that it pursued pro players in other sports, but its basketball contract is still among the most lucrative the business has ever inked. Like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, Jordan got one of the most lucrative endorsement agreements in basketball history.