Jay-Z famously said, “I’m not a businessman—I’m a business, man!”
And these NBA stars truly embody playing basketball as an infinite income source.
You won’t find any LeBron James or Stephen Curry in the list (both are working their way up to appearing in the future list, though). But these names are some of the wealthiest NBA players to date.
#5 Tim Duncan
Total earnings: $240.1 million
Highest single-season pay: $22.2 million
Duncan was given the name The Fundamental by none other than O’Neal. For O’Neal, he was one of the most fundamentally sound players in the NBA then and now.
O’Neal knew because the Duncan-led San Antonio Spurs snatched the 2002-03 championship from the Lakers. Speaking of which, Duncan has earned sizable amount from his stint with the Spurs.
However, he was not all for earning millions of dollars. He sacrificed bigger paychecks twice in his career: one with a salary cut in 2012 to keep the Spurs intact and two with a massive discount for a $10.4 million contract, again with Spurs.
#4 Dirk Nowitzki
Total earnings: $246.6 million
Highest single-season pay: $25 million
Among the NBA players in this list, Nowitzki is the only who still plays. He plays for the Dallas Mavericks where he was reportedly earning $5 million for his one-season contract.
In 2017, he received his biggest pay of $25 million.
The Hall of Famer is one of the all-time leading scorers in the league. He was one of the seven players who scored more than 30,000 points throughout their career.
#3 Shaquille O’Neal
Total earnings: $286.3 million
Highest single-season pay: $27.7 million
O’Neal was known for his strength, agility, and speed—the reasons why 1) he was unstoppable during one-on-ones and 2) he broke two backboards during his rookie year. No pun intended there as it only knows how forceful O’Neal can become.
O’Neal led the Lakers championships for three consecutive years from 2000 to 2002. His biggest paycheck came in 2004-05 NBA season when he led the team to the Finals once more.
#2 Kobe Bryant
Total earnings: $323.3 million
Highest single-season pay: $30.5 million
Despite a season-ending knee injury that he sustained in the 2013-14 season, this was Bryant’s highest-paying season still.
Bryant was an MVP, a four-time Finals MVP, and a five-time NBA champion. Such accomplishments were rewarded handsomely by the Los Angeles Lakers management.
The Black Mamba overtook O’Neal’s supposed second stop if he didn’t retire one season behind Bryant. Bryant was also one season short of Garnett’s.
#1 Kevin Garnett
Total earnings: $334.3 million
Highest single-season pay: $28 million
His overall revenues are not the main reason why Garnett earned the moniker The Big Ticket. But contract-wise, the retired player earns the honour of being the richest man in the NBA.
In fact, he was the primary reason the league introduced a cap on contracts after signing a $126 million deal for six years.
The only player who was about to surpass his earnings is LeBron James.
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