Many sports fans make the mistake of thinking that getting to the top of a sport and staying there is easy, whereas in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
Basketball is no different, with players often coming up the hard way, dominating street court games, before bagging themselves college scholarships, and then eventually breaking through into the NBA big time.
Even within the NBA itself there are a whole host of levels to rise through before a player truly can call himself elite.
Here we look at some of the ballers who managed it, and then took full advantage financially, to set themselves up as some of the world’s richest athletes.
1. Lebron James — $400m
While many of the players on this list are no longer active, having made the bulk of their fortunes once they hung up their sneakers, King James is still going strong, appearing in odds lines and betting tips columns on a daily basis.
He now plies his trade for the LA Lakers, where he has picked up where Kobe Bryant left off, building on the Laker dynasty and consistently factoring into NBA Championship winner betting odds as well as those for the coveted MVP title.
As well as being one of the most well-paid athletes in the NBA, James also has multiple business interests outside of the sport. These include him founding and running his very own movie production company called SpringHill and even owning a sizeable chunk of Liverpool soccer club.
He also recently signed a bumper deal with Nike, agreeing to endorse their products in return for an eye watering amount of money. Because of this, James’ net worth can be expected to sky rocket further throughout 2021 and beyond, especially if he keeps delivering for those sports bettors who back him.
2. Michael Jordan — $1.5 billion
He was the player who defined the sport for a generation and now Michael Jordan is making just as many waves on the business scene as he did on NBA parquet.
Despite only making a paltry $100m in earnings as a player in the NBA, Jordan’s money-making operation got seriously underway when he realized just how valuable his personal brand was.
This led him to sign some of the biggest endorsement and sponsorship deals in history. However, to become a billionaire takes more than just signing the deals put in front of you, and Jordan has also invested wisely in everything from fantasy sports sites to basketball teams like the Charlotte Hornets. All of this makes him the richest ex-sportsman on the planet.
3. Junior Bridgeman — $600m
Who exactly is Junior Bridgeman you might ask? Well, he was a small forward who once played for the Bucks and the Clippers, before retiring from the game in 1987. He made a major impact in Milwaukee too, because the franchise retired the number 2 jersey in his honor.
However, during his basketball career Bridgeman was already preparing for life outside of the NBA, studying the business models of fast-food chains. This meant he was all set to begin his own hospitality company as soon as his sports career ended.
Having owed multiple fast-food franchises he then went on to found Bridgeman Foods Inc, a company that has netted him in excess of $600m, meaning a sportsman who is largely unknown to folks outside of the NBA bubble is now the fourth richest retired pro athlete on the planet, alongside household names like Arnold Palmer and David Beckham.
4. Kevin Durant — $170m
There are not many current players who can match the wealth of Lebron James, but one of them is Kevin Durant, who earns his bread playing for the Brooklyn Nets.
Part of the way he has managed to build on the salary he earns is by investing in tech businesses such as Coinbase, which are now paying handsome dividends to the two-meter-tall giant.