LeBron James shouldn’t flaunt that after he loses in the NBA finals he goes back to living a charmed life and we go back to our lives… but the dude is raking it in.
According to Sports Illustrated, LeBron is the third highest earning athlete in the United States in 2011. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson topped the list (Tiger still made $60 million in endorsements this year… damn).
LeBron made $14.5 million in salary and $30 million in endorsements, according to Forbes. LeBron’s endorsement money is only likely to go up in future years, especially if he can win a ring.
Other NBA players on the list: Kobe Bryant (No. 6 at $34.8 million), Kevin Garnett (No. 7 at $32.8 million), Dwight Howard (No. 10 at $28.7 million), Dwyane Wade (No. 11 at $28.2 million), Amar’e Stoudemire (No. 16 at $24.5 million), Carmelo Anthony (No. 21 at $23.5 million), Tim Duncan (No. 24 at $22.3 million), Vince Carter (No. 27 at $20.5 million), Rashard Lewis (No. 29 at $20.3 million), Kevin Durant (No. 31 at $20.1 million), Michael Redd (No 34 at $18.6 million), Gilbert Arenas (No. 36 at $18 million), Zach Randolph (No. 37 at $17.8 million), Kenyon Martin (No. 40 at $16.8 million), Joe Johnson (No. 43 at $16.6 million), Elton Brand (No. 45 at $16.6 million), Paul Pierce (No. 49 at $15.7 million) and Chris Bosh (No. 50 at $15.5 million).
Which says a couple things about the NBA and the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
First, there are a lot of NBA players on that list — 19 of them, 38 percent of the list was from the NBA. That was more than any other sport (16 from Major League Baseball, nine from the NFL). On one hand this plays into the owners’ arguments that NBA players are making more than their counterparts and salaries need to be rolled back, contract lengths shortened.
Look at some of the names on the list — Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, Rashard Lewis — guys who cannot produce at that level anymore.
But this also shows that what the owners really want in this CBA is a system to protect them from themselves. Who gave out these ridiculous contracts? The Hawks just put Joe Johnson on that list and he will be there for the next five years as well — how is the player to blame for this? Why should an owner who makes a bad contract decision just have a “get out of jail free” card?
The thing is LeBron, Kobe, Garnett, Howard, Stoudemire and the guys at the very top are a bargain — what they generate for the team in terms of ticket sales, television ratings, jersey sales and the like far outweigh what they are paid from their teams. What hurts the owners (aside no revenue sharing to speak of) is bad contracts and overpaying the middle class of players. And that’s reflected on this list as much as great players.