No matter which team ends up as champions in this year’s NBA Finals, many of the star players of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will still go home as big money winners.
In Forbes magazine’s World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2018, the top three best paid superstar hoopers came either from the Cavaliers or the Warriors. Two other players from both teams made it to the exclusive global list.
They join 35 other NBA stars that are part of the world’s 100 top-earning athletes, marking a record number of players coming from a single sport. In total, these basketball stars earned around $1.3 billion in the past year.
For the fourth year in a row, the Cavs’ superstar player, Lebron James, leads the pack in basketball, with earnings in the past year at $85.5 million. He placed sixth in the overall list. His basketball moniker, The King, reflects even in his endorsement deals as his Nike signature shoes ranked as the NBA’s bestselling sneaker in 2017. James, 33, is also an endorser of Coca-Cola, Kia Motors, Beats by Dre and Blaze Pizza, where he is also an investor.
The Warriors’ Stephen Curry is next on the list, with earnings at $76.9 million in the past year. He is number eight in the overall list. Curry's sizeable income was largely driven by his endorsement deals but was boosted by the five-year contract he signed last summer with the Golden State worth $200 million.
Completing the top three is Kevin Durant with his income at $57.3 million. The 29-year-old player is also making a name as a tech investor as he set up his own firm, the Durant Company, in 2016. It has already made investments in more than 30 companies including logistics company Postmates and media firm The Player’s Tribune. Durant placed 11th in the overall list.
Meanwhile, the other half of the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson, made $31.3 million last year, ranking 44th on the list while the Cavs’ other playmaker, Kevin Love, earned $26.9 million.
The 2018 list include athletes coming from 22 different countries who compete in 11 sports. In estimating their earnings, Forbes counted how much they made from prize money, salaries, endorsements and bonuses earned between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018.
The top five highest-earning athletes in the list are Floyd Mayweather (boxing, $285 million), Lionel Messi (football, $111 million), Cristiano Ronaldo (football, $108 million), Conor McGregor (mixed martial arts, $99 million), and Neymar (football, $90 million).
Collectively, the world’s highest paid athletes earned $3.8 billion in the past year.
Elyssa Lopez is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz