LeBron, KD and Steph Curry Are at the Top of Their Game as the Highest-Paid Athletes

Forbes released the list of The World’s 10 Highest-Paid Athletes of 2023, and eight out of the 10 have made more than $100 million. Three of the top 10 are Black basketball players, and all three men have signed lifetime contracts with sports apparel companies.

The calculations are based on collective earnings from on-field and off-field between May 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023.

They call him The King for a reason! Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in history, LeBron James, is a top-five earner on this list, coming in at the fourth spot. With several businesses, endorsements, and investments on top of making $44.5 million on the basketball court, he has brought home $119.5 million. The 38-year-old NBA champion became the first active athlete to be certified a billionaire by Forbes last June. Showing off his business acumen is just as strong, if not stronger, than his ball-playing skills.

Some of the companies the Ohio native is involved with include sports nutrition company Ladder and his entertainment production company, SpringHill Co. He is part owner of Fenway Sports Group, which owns sports teams the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s an investor in Lobos 1707 tequila, Mitchell & Ness, and Canyon Bicycles, to name a few, and of course, has a lifetime contract with Nike.

The current NBA champion, who is locked in battle with The King in the playoffs right now, Stephen Curry, sits at No. 8 on the list. While he makes $48.4 million working his day (night) job, he pulls in $52 million when he isn’t wearing basketball shorts in an arena. This is the first year his reported income was over $100 million.

His salary for the current NBA season was the most any player has made in the league, and with next year’s salary, he will make history by becoming the league’s first $50 million man. In the upcoming 2023-24 season, he will make $51.9 million. Less than two months ago, he extended his long-term agreement with Under Armour by signing an exclusive lifetime contract with the sports apparel company. He has partnerships with Chase Bank, Tiger Woods’ VR platform Golf+ and TMRW Sports, as well as his own multimedia company, Unanimous Media.

Kevin Durant came in slightly under $100 million with total earnings of $89.1 million. He makes his money equally between basketball and his business dealings. After being traded to the Phoenix Suns by the Brooklyn Nets earlier this year, his yearly salary is now $44.1 million, and his businesses and investments combined bring in $45 million. He recently joined Curry and James as the only active basketball players with lifetime apparel contracts when he re-signed with long-term partner Nike.

The companies that help Durant secure the bag are:

  • The Premier Lacrosse League.
  • The nutrition brand Happy Viking.
  • Sports software startup ScorePlay.
  • A Major League Pickleball team.

These men are definitely at the top of their game, playing it smart on and off the court while securing the bag. 

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