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5 highest-paid NBA players of 2023

by Omokolade Ajayi
Kevin Durant

In a year of remarkable financial ascent for athletes from various backgrounds, NBA players stand at the forefront, experiencing substantial growth in their earnings. Among these exceptional individuals, five extraordinary Black athletes have cemented their legacies in NBA history.

Forbes’ recent publication of the NBA’s Highest-Paid Players unveils an elite group of earners. At the apex of this roster stands LeBron James, a trailblazer in every sense who is redefining the game, both on and off the court. 

James, the first active NBA player to achieve billionaire status with a net worth exceeding $1 billion, is slated to amass a jaw-dropping $117.6 million during the 2023–24 season. He remains the NBA’s highest-paid player for the tenth consecutive season.

Behind LeBron is Stephen Curry, securing his position as the second-highest earner in the NBA. In the 2023–24 season, Curry is poised to pocket an astounding $101.9 million. This basketball virtuoso, both on and off the court, inked a monumental four-year, $215-million contract in 2021. His on-court earnings for 2023–24, totaling $51.9 million, mark a historic milestone as the first player to breach the $50-million salary threshold.

The roster of high-earning NBA players also features the illustrious Kevin Durant, holding the third spot among the league’s financial titans. Durant, like many of his NBA peers, displays a strong commitment to his financial future. He judiciously diversifies his earnings through astute investments in flourishing businesses and companies.

According to Forbes’ recent publication, here’s the lineup of the top five highest-paid NBA players in 2023:

  1. LeBron James

Total earnings: $117.6 million

James, the iconic NBA superstar with a net worth surpassing a billion dollars, continues to reign as the highest-earning player for the tenth consecutive season. In 2023, he’s projected to rake in an astonishing $117.6 million, making history as the top earner in NBA history, accumulating over $432 million throughout his 20-season career. His earnings primarily stem from his $70-million off-court earnings, including endorsements, licensing, appearances, and business ventures, complemented by an estimated $47.6 million from on-court activities. Assuming he completes his current contract and picks up the option for the next season, LeBron James is on track to exceed $530 million by 2025.

  1. Stephen Curry

Total earnings: $101.9 million

Renowned for his exceptional skills and charismatic presence, Curry boasts one of the NBA’s most lucrative contracts, set to pocket $101.9 million in the 2023-24 season. His on-court earnings are estimated at a groundbreaking $51.9 million, marking the first time an NBA player surpasses the $50-million salary threshold. Off the court, Curry’s ventures, including a thriving media business with Unanimous, have contributed an impressive $50 million to his earnings. Additionally, Curry recently signed a lucrative deal with Under Armour in March, extending into his retirement years and accompanied by $75 million in stock.

  1. Kevin Durant

Total earnings: $91.4 million

Durant, recognized as one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, shows no signs of slowing down, smartly diversifying his earnings through strategic investments in various companies and flourishing business ventures, preparing for life beyond the court. The 2023-24 season is projected to bring him a substantial $91.4 million, comprising $46.4 million from on-court activities and $45 million from off-court earnings, derived from endorsements, licensing, appearances, memorabilia, and his entrepreneurial endeavors. Durant actively invests through his firm, 35V, with stakes in a Major League Pickleball team, digital creator business Goldenset Collective, and media asset manager ScorePlay.

  1. Giannis Antetokoumpo

Total earnings: $85.6 million

Continuing to solidify his position as one of the NBA’s top players, Giannis Antetokounmpo has secured a place among the world’s highest-paid athletes. In 2023, he’s expected to amass earnings totaling $85.6 million, with $45.6 million coming from on-court activities and $40 million from off-court ventures, such as endorsements, licensing, appearances, memorabilia, and his entrepreneurial endeavors. This represents a notable increase from the $80.9 million he earned in 2022. In June, Antetokounmpo launched his investment holding company, Ante, Inc., serving as a hub for a diverse range of business endeavors. His upcoming projects, including a retail store near the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, complement his investments in sectors like food and beverages, sports teams, and mutual funds, showcasing his commitment to strategic and varied financial ventures.

  1. Damian Lillard

Total earnings: $63.6 million

Damian Lillard, the buzzing NBA superstar fresh off a career-defining season, has risen to the ranks of the highest-earning NBA players, with projected earnings of $63.6 million in the 2023-24 season. This sum comprises $45.6 million from on-court activities and $18 million from off-court pursuits.

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