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Can Basketball make you Rich? (+top NBA salaries)

Among all professional sports, basketball has the highest average salary with around $7 million per year in earnings. Second is baseball with $4.5 million annually, and hockey is a close third with $3 million per year(1).

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the world.

It is also the second most profitable pro league in the United States behind the National Football League (NFL).

With an average revenue of $291 million per year, NBA teams can afford to pay their players huge contracts.

Richest Basketball Player in the World

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. But what’s undisputed is his fortune.

Jordan also happens to be the richest basketball player in the world with a net worth of $1.5 billion(2).

michael jordan rich basketball

So basically, he’s winning in basketball and in life, both on and off the court.

Aside from the salary he received during his playing days in the NBA, he has received tons of money through endorsements.

He also has his own shoe line, aptly named the Jordan Brand. Until now, throngs of people have purchased Jordan shoes, either for collection or for playing.

Among current active players in the NBA, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is the richest basketball player right now.

With a net worth of $440 million, James has a lifetime endorsement with Nike. He also has numerous business ventures outside of basketball.

Here is a list of the ten richest basketball players in the world, both retired and active.

Can you make Money playing Basketball?

Being in the NBA or any professional basketball league is one thing. But if you want to make money while playing basketball without making it to the big leagues, there are other ways to do it.

First, you can join community basketball tournaments. Some organizers offer cash prizes for podium winners.

Second, join other basketball-related competitions, such as the 3×3 tournaments or three-point shooting contests.

You can use those mini-competitions as your stepping stone towards realizing your dream.

Like professional basketball players though, you still need to work hard in practice.

10 richest basketball players

  1. Michael Jordan (1984-93, 1995-98, 2001-03) – $1.5 billion
  2. Junior Bridgeman (1975-87) – $601 million
  3. Magic Johnson (1979-91, 1996) – $600 million
  4. LeBron James Los Angeles Lakers (2003-present) – $440 million
  5. Shaquille O’Neal (1992-2011) – $400 million
  6. Kobe Bryant (1996-2016) – $350 million
  7. David Robinson (1989-2003) – $202 million
  8. Hakeem Olajuwon (1984-2002) – $200 million
  9. Kevin Garnett (1995-2016) – $190 million
  10. Grant Hill (1994-2013) – $180 million

Take note that these are their entire net worth. Some of the current NBA players have bigger contracts than a few people on that list.

However, their salaries are divided by the number of years on their contract.

Therefore, they have not received the bulk of their salaries yet. We’ll see how much of their salaries will be invested.

Who’s the Lowest-paid NBA player?

Rookies generally are the lowest-paid NBA players. Teams can pay rookies the minimum salary of $890,310 a year.

However, some rookies are given the exception of getting paid more. Most first-round draft picks definitely receive more than $890,310(3).

If the players get lucky to stay longer in the NBA, their minimum salary gradually increases.

In their second year, they get paid $1.45 million.

By their third season, they can receive a $1.6 million contract for a year.

So if you’re an aspiring NBA player, when you reach your second season, you are guaranteed to become a millionaire.

Well worth it to put in the energy and practice while playing varsity basketball, right?

Average Salary in the NBA

The average salary in the NBA is $7 million.

That includes multimillion-dollar deals with superstars such as LeBron and Kevin Durant.

However, it is offset by the minimum salaries that rookies receive in their first season contracts.

And take note that less than 10 percent of NBA players receive superstar-level contracts.

The biggest contract in the NBA today is owned by Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Lillard is currently signed with the Blazers for $257 million for 6 years(4).

He signed a contract extension for four more years in 2019. Therefore, Lillard will be under contract with Portland until the 2024-25 NBA season.

The ten biggest contracts in the NBA right now are justifiable, as all ten players have been NBA All-Stars at least once.

Four players on the list are current or former NBA Most Valuable Player winners.

Here is the full list of the ten biggest contracts in the NBA.

10 Biggest Contracts in the NBA:

  1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers – $257 million for 6 years, from 2019 to 2025 ($42.8 million annual average)
  2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks – $256 million for 6 years, from 2020 to 2026 ($42.7 million annual average)
  3. Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards – $233 million for 6 years, from 2017 to 2023 ($38.8 million annual average)
  4. James Harden, Brooklyn Nets – $228 million for 6 years, from 2017 to 2023 ($38 million annual average)
  5. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers – $226 million for 5 years, from 2020 to 2025 ($45.2 million annual average)
  6. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – $201 million for 5 years, from 2017 to 2022 ($40 million annual average)
  7. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors – $190 million for 5 years, from 2019 to 2024 ($38 million annual average)
  8. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers – $190 million for 5 years, from 2019 to 2024 ($38 million annual average)
  9. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks – $178 million for 5 years, from 2019 to 2024 ($35.6 million annual average)
  10. Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons – $173 million for 5 years, from 2017 to 2022 ($34.6 million annual average)

When do NBA players get paid?

With a lucrative deal such as the NBA contract, it’s hard to imagine how they get paid. While there have been no clear sources on how they get paid and when the most reliable source can easily be searched.

Check out the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) handbook, with the latest revision made in 2017(5).

According to the CBA, NBA players receive their paycheck on the 1st and 15th of the month.

However, it doesn’t indicate if they are physical checks or deposited directly to their personal bank accounts.

NBA players start to get paid once they sign the contract. Their first day officially as a member of the team is indicated on the contract as well.

This means, if their contract states their official tenure with the team began on November 1st, they will receive their first paycheck on November 15th.

Are there other financial incentives outside their salaries?

Monetary incentives depend on the team owner’s discretion. It also depends on the current situation of the franchise.

Some teams hand out bonuses if their teams win a certain amount of games, or reach the playoffs.

These bonuses are usually offered by struggling franchises, to motivate the team to improve their performance for each game.

Other teams with a winning record offer incentives if they reach the Finals, or better yet, win the title.

A few owners also offer special bonuses for their players who receive individual awards, such as the MVP or All-NBA team selection.

And there are other incentives specifically made for certain players.

For example, Dallas Mavericks Maxi Kleber would receive a $75,000 bonus if his free-throw percentage was 80 percent or higher.

Another example is Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors. The Canadian ball club offered Lowry an extra $200,000 if he played for 65 or more games this season(6).

So, if you’re passionate about basketball, and you want to fulfill your dreams, keep working hard.

Maybe all these numbers you dream of could become a reality one day.

Basketball can definitely make you rich.


  1. The Best Paid Sports Jobs by Average Salary:
  2. The Richest NBA Players in the World:
  3. The NBA’s league minimum salary:,paid%20out%20by%20the%20league.
  4. Largest contracts in NBA history:
  5. How do NBA Players get paid?:
  6. NBA to prorate bonus, incentive criteria:

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