Los Angeles Lakers small forward LeBron James is one of the best players in NBA history. A four-time MVP, four-time champion and four-time Finals MVP, he is projected to become the all-time leading scorer next season.
As a once-in-a-lifetime basketball player, James is also very rich. The Lakers star is officially a billionaire, becoming the first active NBA player to make the billionaire list, according to Forbes’ Chase Peterson Weehorn.
James’ childhood idol, Michael Jordan, became a billionaire in 2014, more than a decade after he retired from the NBA. James and Jordan are the only two basketball billionaires.
“Obviously, that’s my biggest milestone,” James told GQ in 2014 to become a potential billionaire. “I want to maximize my business. If I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion-dollar athlete, hehe. Great! Oh my gosh, I’d be so excited.”
According to Forbes, James earned more than $385 million in salaries from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and Lakers. Off the field, LBJ has earned more than $900 million from endorsements and other business investments.
A breakdown of James’ estimated $1 billion fortune
James’ estimated $1 billion fortune comes from the Spring Hill Company, Fenway Sports Group, real estate, Blaze Pizza, and cash and other investments, according to Peterson-Weehorn. The Chosen One has undoubtedly well diversified his portfolio.
“After more than a decade of success, he reached a lifetime deal with Nike in late 2015, paying him tens of millions of dollars a year,” Peterson-Weehorn wrote. “Last year, thanks to Nike, plus deals with brands like AT&T, Pepsi and Walmart, he became the second highest paid athlete in the world.
“But the real key to James’ billion-dollar fortune is this: He’s not just a salesman. James has long been arranging deals that give him equity in partner brands that give him a piece of the pie, not a quick paycheck. In 2015, James abandoned a four-year endorsement deal with McDonald’s worth about $15 million in favor of the fast-growing Blaze Pizza chain, in which he is an investor. He also owns smart gym makers Tonal and Stakes in brands such as ride-sharing giant Lyft.
“Then there’s SpringHill, a television and film production agency built by James and business partner Maverick Carter. The venture was acquired last October by outside investors including Boston Red Sox owners Fenway Sports Group and Epic Games , helped produce the $163 million (global box office total) “Space Jam: The New Legacy” and the HBO documentary “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali.” A $725 million valuation. Of course, James still is the largest shareholder.”
James could make more money from the Lakers this summer
James is eligible to sign a two-year, $97 million extension with the Lakers this offseason. If he doesn’t, the future Hall of Famer will enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2023.
James will earn $44,474,988 next season. He signed a four-year, $153.5 million contract with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 and agreed to a two-year, $85.7 million extension with Los Angeles in December 2020.
James is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul also represented Lakers big man Anthony Davis. Despite James averaging 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists, the Purple and Gold won only 33 games and missed the 2021-22 playoffs.