Shaquille O’Neal – $400 million
Shaq enjoyed a long and prolific playing career in the NBA. The former number one overall pick was able to win three championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He signed two notable long-term contracts that strongly contributed to his overall net worth. The first was a seven-year, $121 million deal with the Lakers, and he followed that with another mega deal, worth $100 million for five years to play for the Miami Heat. Shaq has spent his post-playing years as a TV host and entrepreneur.
LeBron James – $450 million
LeBron James is quickly climbing this list, as his net worth has skyrocketed in recent years to almost a half of a billion dollars. LeBron earns roughly $40 million per year in salary, and another estimated $55 million in endorsements each year. With just under $100 million added to his value each year, it’s understandable why this number is so fluid and constantly rising. Over each of the last two years, from 2016 through 2018, LeBron has brought in approximately $85 million, adding a cool $170 million in just two fast years. Where he ends up on this list remains unknown, but has a long way to go to reach the top spot.
Kobe Bryant – $500 million
To this day, Bryant remains one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. While playing for the Lakers for the entirety of his career, Kobe was able to bring home five championships for the franchise. Over the course of his career, he earned roughly $300 million in total salaries, while also adding another $280 in income from sponsorships and endorsements. But the former baller;s most impressive business venture had nothing to do with his skills or persona as an athlete. In early 2014, Kobe invested $6 million in a sports drink called BodyArmour, which gave him a 10% stake in the company. When Coca Cola purchased its own stake in the company in August 2018, the company was valued at $2 billion, meaning Kobe turned his $6 million into a cool $200 million.
Junior Bridgeman – $600 million
Bridgeman was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the eighth overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft. He was instantly traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While many players on this list earned their bread playing basketball, Bridgeman played in an era when salaries were far lower than they are today. However, none of that deterred him of course, as he used his income to further invest in various opportunities in the food industry. Ultimately, Bridgeman now is the owner of 160 Wendy’s fast food branches, as well as 118 Chili’s restaurants. He has other investments as well, but these are the ones that have helped him amass an estimated $600 million in net worth.
Magic Johnson – $600 million
Magic is still considered one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. But he played at a time when salaries were modest to say the least, particularly when compared with today’s enormous sums that are given to far inferior talents. The vast majority of the money Magic has earned came following his retirement. He launched a company called Magic Johnson Enterprises, which has catapulted his personal net worth substantially. His company owns a movie studio, a group of theatres (Magic Johnson Theatres), among other things. He previously owned a large amount of Starbucks branches, which he parted ways with back in 2010 in exchange for a cool $75 million. He also turned a 1994 investment of $10 million as a minority owner of the Lakers (4.5%), into $50-60 million. He sold his share of the team in 2010 as well.
Michael Jordan – $1.5 billion
The greatest basketball player to ever play the game, is also the richest of them all. MJ has leveraged his highly marketable name and stature into incredible wealth. He has done that with a combination of sponsorships deals, movies, commercials, as well as shoes and clothing lines. He also is the majority owner of an NBA franchise (Charlotte Hornets). Among the most well known companies Jordan has been associated with include Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, Wheaties, McDonald’s, Chevrolet, and Coca-Cola. Eventually, the superstar created his own company (Jordan Brand), which has the image of him dunking as the logo. MJ is in all likelihood the most marketed athlete of all-time, and it has clearly translated into an absurd net worth.