It’s no secret that NBA players are among the highest paid athletes in the world. Today, the average salary of an NBA player is at a whopping $7,344,059 yearly, but the best players get paid much more.
But who are these players that have warranted the highest paychecks and what have they done to deserve it? While performance plays a factor, when they played is also a consideration, since the league and NBA teams are making more money today than they were in the 90’s. For instance, the six highest-paid players in NBA history all played during the 2010’s.
6. Kevin Durant - $264,153,846
Arguably the biggest threat to LeBron’s crown as best player in the world during the 2010’s, the 32-year-old Durant has had a prolific career and is a surefire Hall of Famer.
In 2011, Durant signed a 5-year contract worth $89,163,134 with the Thunder, and in 2016 signed a two-year, $54.3 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Durant re-signed with the Warriors in 2018 on a two-year, $61.5 million contract and in 2019 Durant went to the Brooklyn Nets through a sign-and-trade deal worth $164 million for four years.
One of the few players with a legitimate claim to the title of greatest scorer of all time, Durant is an 11-time All-Star, and a two-time NBA Champion and Finals MVP. He has won the 2014 NBA MVP Award and made the All-NBA First Team six times so far in his career.
5. Shaquille O’Neal - $286,344,668
Drafted in 1992, Shaquille O’Neal is widely regarded as one of the most dominant players in NBA history. O’Neal was without a doubt the best center in the NBA during his prime and one of the best paid as well.
Shaq made most of his money playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, earning an estimated $166,592,487 throughout his stint in LA. He has played a total of 19 seasons for multiple teams including the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics.
O’Neal is a 15-time All-Star, four-time Champion, three-time Finals MVP, and was NBA MVP in 2000. He made the All-NBA First Team eight times in his career and in 2016 was inducted to the Hall of Fame.
4. Chris Paul - $299,909,419
Recognized as one of the best point guards of all time, Chris Paul may not have the postseason success that his contemporaries do, but his play has deservedly led him to become the fourth highest-paid player in NBA history.
In 2009, Paul signed a four-year, $63,629,415 deal with the New Orleans Hornets. He was then dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers where in 2013 he signed a five-year, $107,343,477 contract. He is currently under a four-year, $159,730,592 contract which he initially signed with the Houston Rockets and is set to make $44,211,146 in the 2021-22 season.
Paul is an 11-time All-Star and has made the All-NBA First Team four times in his Hall of Fame career. He is currently fifth all-time in career assists.
3. Kobe Bryant - $323,312,307
Kobe Bryant is a top 10 all-time player and is widely recognized as the second greatest shooting guard of all time, and the late legend has earned plenty of money throughout his 20 seasons in the league.
Viewed by many as the greatest Laker of all time, Kobe played all of his seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2004, he signed a seven-year, $136,434,375 contract with the Lakers and in 2011 signed a three-year deal worth $83,547,447 and in 2014 signed a two-year, $48,500,000 contract.
Bryant won five championships with the Lakers and was named Finals MVP twice. The 2008 NBA MVP is also an 18-time All-Star and made the All-NBA First Team 11 times and the All-Defensive First Team nine times. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2021.
2. Kevin Garnett - $334,304,240
Kevin Garnett was drafted straight out of high school by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995, and throughout his 22 seasons in the NBA made his case as one of the greatest big men of all time.
In 1997, at just 21 years old, Garnett signed a six-year, $126 million contract extension with the Timberwolves, one of the biggest contracts in NBA history at the time. Garnett was then sent to the Boston Celtics in 2007. He signed a three-year, $51,300,000 contract in 2009 and then a three-year, $36 million deal in 2012. He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013 and in 2015 signed a two-year, $16,500,000 contract with Minnesota where he retired.
Garnett is a 15-time All-Star who won the MVP Award in 2004 and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. The Hall of Famer won the NBA Championship with the Celtics in 2008 and made the All-NBA First Team four times.
1. LeBron James - $346,203,575
Argued by some as the greatest player of all time, there’s no denying that LeBron is the greatest player of his generation.
LeBron played a total of 11 seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers, making $169,884,342 with the team, four seasons with the Miami Heat, making $64,008,659, and has made $153,491,118 so far with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron is a four-time NBA champion, four-time Finals MVP, four-time MVP, and 17-time All-Star. He made the All-NBA First Team 13 times and currently ranks third all-time in career points scored.