There are only a handful of players who are up for that debate. Jordan and James are among the two richest in NBA history, too. Of course, the television deals and increasing funds across the league assist that claim.
But their stakes to fame are far more than making millions for playing basketball. Each has a successful shoe line with Nike. Those contracts pay out millions of dollars, too.
Here is a deeper look at the career path of Michael Jordan, a man who is valued at $1.687 billion.
There is a stark difference between the amount of money players make under the latest contract bargaining agreement and what Jordan made for his career. The latter totaled $90 million once taxes were taken out for his career, and James will earn half of that tally next season at 39 years old (though portions of that will be taxed).
Jordan won six NBA championships and five NBA Most Valuable Player awards during his 15-year career, which included a stoppage to pursue a professional baseball career and a retirement before he decided to try to extend his career. Ten times in 12 seasons, Jordan was the league’s scoring champ, which is impressive considering he did that three times in four years after his hiatus for baseball.
For his career, Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. He finished with 32,292 career points.
Sponsorships and More
Jordan is now 60 years old and completely made his wealth on his own. That included in 1984 when he signed his first shoe deal with Nike, a brand that he did not even enjoy at the time. His mother urged him to listen to their pitch.
Jordan would have rather had Adidas, but they could not make it work. Converse said it would not put Jordan above the stars of that era, including Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. So Nike it was, and it became one of the most popular brands still today.
Primarily for running shoes, Nike produced technology for their running shoes called air soles, and Jordan became the one to market Air Jordan because of his ability to elevate over defenders and sky for dunks.
“Nike’s expectation when we signed the deal was, at the end of Year 4, they hoped to sell $3 million worth of Air Jordans,” Jordan’s agent, David Falk, said in a docuseries. “In Year 1, we sold $126 million.”
That was a lot of money in 1984, and it remains to be one of the most popular shoes in the market. It is a great lifestyle shoe that people use to accessorize with their clothing, business or casual.
Aside from his partnerships with Nike, Jordan also had endorsement deals with Gatorade and Hanes. He still appears in Hanes commercials, too.
Evolution of Wealth
Jordan used that wealth he built and largely lived off the grid. But he eventually bought the Charlotte Bobcats (now Charlotte Hornets) in 2010 for $275 million. Jordan has also been the general manager for the Hornets.
“Purchasing the Bobcats is the culmination of my post-playing career goal of becoming the majority owner of an NBA franchise,” Jordan said then. “I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to build a winning team in my home state of North Carolina.”
Jordan played at the University of North Carolina and was from the coastal city of Wilmington. While the organization has had its struggles on the court, it has been a source of pride for Jordan and North Carolinians.
Jordan was actually valued at $2.1 billion in 2020, but he also invested in a sports-betting firm and became a NASCAR team co-owner that year.
His investment in the Hornets? It was worth $1.5 billion in 2019. That is an incredible turnaround that should pay off for his five kids and their families long after Jordan is gone.