Richest NBA Players 2020-2021
It’s no secret that NBA players are balling in and out of the court. NBA players earn millions of dollars from their salaries alone, and the best players in the league can net contracts amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.
More than that, NBA players are also public figures who are potent ambassadors for numerous brands, with many hoopers attaining celebrity status and even starring in their own movies. Performing well in the NBA can translate to immense financial opportunities not just from NBA teams but from a multitude of outside sources.
Even though some NBA players may get overpaid in that their performance on the floor doesn’t always translate to how much they’re paid, there’s no question that they work hard for the money they earn, even going beyond the hardwood to get that bag.
The past season saw plenty of players earn heaps of money from their salaries, sponsorships, and investments. Let’s take a look at the players who earned the most in 2020-21 and how they managed to accumulate their wealth.
5. James Harden - $50 million total earnings
James Harden has been one of the greatest offensive players we’ve seen in recent history, and the 2018 MVP’s run in recent seasons has been nothing short of legendary. In 2017, Harden signed an extension with the Houston Rockets worth a whopping $171 million for four years.
Although Harden has since moved on from Houston to Brooklyn, there’s no denying that he still remains the top shooting guard in the league, and his $171 million contract will keep him paid until the 2022-23 season.
Apart from being one of the top paid players in the NBA, Harden is also under a $200 million, 13-year deal with Adidas, where he has a successful signature sneaker line. He’s also sponsored by renowned brands such as Beats, BodyArmor, and State Farm, and he made a $15 million investment in the Houston Dynamo of the MLS where he bought a small stake in July of 2019.
4. Russell Westbrook - $58.1 million total earnings
Russell Westbrook had what was at the time biggest contract in NBA history when he signed a $207 million extension for five years with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, the same year he won the NBA MVP award.
The former Wizard was the third highest salaried player in the NBA for the 2020-21 season, but his earnings beyond the court also contributed a sizeable amount to his total earnings.
Most of his income from sponsorships comes from Nike, where he has a lucrative partnership with Jordan Brand. But although Westbrook doesn’t have as much sponsorships as the other players in this list, he invested wisely in the car dealership industry, and he currently owns ten dealerships throughout California.
3. Kevin Durant - $65.2 million total earnings
Durant may have been sidelined in the 2019-20 season due to an Achilles injury, but there’s no question that any team was still willing to spend big bucks to sign him. The Brooklyn Nets signed Durant to a four-year contract worth $164 million in 2019, and it’s safe to say that the gambit paid off, with Durant still playing in superstar form when he made his return.
KD had the sixth highest salary in the 2020-21 season, but his endorsements and shrewd investments pushed him over the top of his peers who got paid more by their teams.
The 2014 MVP earned more than $40 million from sponsorship income, and he also made investments in over 40 companies. Some of the companies Durant invested in are Acorns and Postmates, the latter being bought by Uber for $2.65 million, which made Durant’s initial $1 million investment yield around $15 million.
2. Stephen Curry - $74.4 million total earnings
Though Curry had a comeback season in 2020-21 after being sidelined for most of the 2019-20 season, his performance and value to Golden State alone still warranted netting the highest salary in the NBA.
In 2017, Curry signed the first ever $200 million contract in the NBA, which made him the highest salaried player in the league for each season since. More than having the distinction of being the top earner in the league, Curry also has his own companies and has lucrative sponsorships.
The two-time MVP has his own SC30 company which manages his brand, and has a production company named Unanimous Media. Furthermore, Curry’s partnership with Under Armour was taken to the next level when the company announced Curry Brand, which is similar to Nike’s own iconic Jordan Brand.
1. LeBron James - $95.4 million total earnings
LeBron is currently under a four-year, $153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, and although he has the lowest salary among the players in this list, his endorsement portfolio is unmatched.
To put things in perspective, LeBron’s endorsement income is more than twice his NBA salary, and there’s no denying that he has been the face of the league for the longest time, and remains to be perhaps the most high-profile superstar in the NBA, even landing a starring role in Space Jam 2.
James owns a production company called SpringHill Company and his media company Uninterrupted supplies high quality content online. James has his own signature shoe line in Nike and is sponsored as well by brands such as PepsiCo, 2K Sports, and AT&T.