LeBron James may have made an early exit from this year’s NBA playoffs, as his Los Angeles Lakers lost in the first round and failed to repeat as champions. But the NBA superstar is reportedly close to reaching another major goal.
James has long wished to attain billionaire status, and some recent media reports have indicated that he’s getting close.
Forbes reported earlier this year that James is expected to reach over $1 billion in career earnings this year, in the process of becoming the first athlete in the history of American team sports to do so. James had said in a GQ interview in 2014 that becoming a billionaire was one of his personal goals.
That estimate shows that James’ earnings, which also include endorsements and other off-court income, is expected to total $95.4 million in 2021. He’s the highest-paid player in the NBA, with all income included, for each of the last seven years.
Other athletes, including Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, have made over $1 billion from all sources in their careers, although Woods and Mayweather play individual sports, and Ronaldo and Messi are European soccer players.
More than half of James’ money comes off the court, from his endorsements from Nike and other companies, as well as his entertainment aspirations, which are widely seen as a major reason James chose to sign in Los Angeles three years ago. James is set to have his first movie starring role in Space Jam: A New Legacy, which will be released later this month.
But in terms of on-court income, James is the highest-paid player in NBA history, per Spotrac. Through 2021, James has made over $387 million to play basketball, over the course of his 19-season career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, the Cavs again, and the Lakers.
Second is Chris Paul, who has made over $344 million in his 17 years. The retired star Kevin Garnett is third, with $334 million, over the course of his 22-year NBA career, while the late Kobe Bryant made $323 million, in his 20 seasons with the Lakers. Fifth is Kevin Durant, the still-active player who has made $306 million over the course of his 15 years in the league.
Rounding out the top ten are Russell Westbrook, Shaquille O’Neal, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, and Stephen Curry.
The career earnings listed by Forbes and other sources are merely an estimate, and not anything official, as none of us have access to LeBron James’ financial statements. Celebrity Net Worth-whose estimates are also far from official- lists James’ net worth as $500 million. However, net worth and career earnings are two different things.
Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.