LeBron James Is the NBA’s First $1 Billion Man. He Won’t Be the Last
Space Jam: A New Legacy opened to mild reviews last weekend - no different than the original cult classic from 1996 - but moviegoers embraced the family-friendly tariff. The film's star and producer LeBron James rejoiced a little on Twitter after covering a $ 32 million box office weekend. The project lasted seven years for James, who after nearly two decades of endless comparisons on the pitch, found himself able to be compared to Michael Jordan on screen.
James, 36, will have a tough time beating MJ's six NBA titles - he's behind two - but he's already leading Jordan in another category - the first NBA player to make $ 1 billion in his playing career. Dollars in career income are cracking. Jordan missed $ 1 billion during his career as a player, even adjusted for inflation. However, don't shed a tear for MJ. He made his highest annual salary in retirement thanks to soaring earnings at Nike's Jordan Brand, and Jordan's total earnings are now approximately $ 2 billion since he left Chapel Hill for the NBA in 1984.
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Since his call-up in 2003, James has made $ 330 million in player salaries - minus recent trust deductions - and an additional $ 700 million out of court through advertising, merchandising, licensing, and his media business. Current endorsement partners AT&T, Beats, Blaze Pizza, GMC, Nike, PepsiCo, Rimowa, and Walmart help James make more than $ 100 million annually. The latest addition is Epic Games, which gives Fortnite players access to a pair of James-themed outfits, or "skins".
His closest players among the active players are Kevin Durant ($ 580 million in career income) and Stephen Curry ($ 430 million). The only other athletes who made $ 1 billion while they were still active are Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Roger Federer.
James becomes the first player in a U.S. team sport to hit the three-point club, but he won't be the last as a new generation of athletes hunt for big results through stock deals, changing names, image and likeness Rules can start the clock earlier when sports stars make the bench.
Durant, 32, is most likely to hit $ 1 billion among active gamblers. He still owes the Brooklyn Nets $ 84 million over the next two seasons and about $ 85 million from Nike through 2024 when his 10-year Swoosh deal expires. KD has largely gone without new referrals in recent years and has focused on its investment vehicle Thirty-Five Ventures, which has made more than 75 investments and made some big profits with Coinbase and Postmates. Top athletes have access to opportunities normally reserved for billionaires, venture capitalists, and Wall Street insiders.
"Each player is their own small business conglomerate," said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketer at Baker Street Advertising. “It's more on the equity side and the creation side; It means less to hold up a product for 30 seconds and say I am going to shave with it. "
The NBA is the fastest way for US team sports stars to hoard profits. The league is transforming all-stars into global icons with the support of Nike and Adidas, and signing advertising deals that go beyond what an NFL or MLB player could earn. Salaries are also skyrocketing. Luka Dončić, 22, can extend his $ 200 million contract for five years this summer. The Dallas Mavericks star could bring in more than $ 700 million in salary by the age of 36 alone if the NBA salary cap continues to rise and the two-time All-Star maintains his elite game.
The rules are also changing in marketing. "We live in a limitless world where athletes now have the chance to capitalize on global opportunities," said David Carter, a director of the Sports Business Group, an industry advisor. “The filters have also been removed; An athlete no longer has to worry about focusing only on their brand because the media is filtering it or what their team or league is doing with their intellectual property; you can contact us directly. "
James is the archetype for this new era of athletes. He has direct access to his 167 million followers on social media, who are the fifth most athletes after Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Virat Kohli. He can advertise for his traditional sponsors, but also for brands in which he also holds shares, such as Calm, Ladder / Openfit, LOBOS 1707 Tequila and Blaze.
With longtime business partner Maverick Carter, the 17-time NBA All-Star founded his own media and production companies, which are part of the SpringHill Company. He may be facing another huge payday as reports last week suggested the company could invite outside investment valued at $ 750 million.
James entered the NBA straight from high school in 2003, armed with advertising deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, and Upper Deck; Two years later, the NBA banned high school players from drafting. Updated NIL rules give many athletes a chance to capitalize on their fame before turning pro. The overwhelming majority of these agreements will have limited compensation, but massive scores are always possible with a stake, and it probably won't stop before college as deals for high school students are inevitable, according to Carter of the USC.
"You're building your own brand sooner, faster, and bigger thanks to social media," said Dorfman, referring to a 16-year-old "Bronny" James with six million Instagram followers, a FaZe Clan ambassador role, and prenatal fame as someone who could be another potential $ 1 billion hoop star. “He's learned from someone who's been in the league and has business acumen and knows how to find the right opportunities. And there will be a lot more options. "
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Los Angeles Lakers
American basketball player and businessman
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