LeBron James's New Two-Year Contract Is Worth More Than Michael Jordan Made His Entire Career

By on July 8, 2024 in ArticlesSports News

Quick: Do you know the salary cap for the 2024-25 season? It's okay if you don't, it's a number most fans probably couldn't name off the top of their head. This year's salary cap is $140,588,000, a 3.36% increase from last year. The cap has doubled since 2015, the result of exploding broadcast and sponsorship deals between the league and key partners. That means player salaries today are breaking franchise and league records left and right.

As wild as it seems, one player who's probably been underpaid is LeBron James. The league's all-time leading scorer and four-time MVP has made $479,466,457 in on-court earnings over his 20-year career, though he's brought in even more value for both the league and his teams. When he left the Cleveland Cavaliers and joined the Miami Heat, they became appointment viewing. The Cavs crumbled in his absence, and when he returned in 2014, he led them to a championship.

The Lakers have had plenty of stars come through over the years, though LeBron has kept the team in the spotlight despite not winning a playoff series in four of his six seasons with the team. He's worth a ton, but because of league rules, he can only sign up for 35% of the salary cap.

While James is probably underpaid, Michael Jordan was definitely underpaid. Sure, that whole deal with Nike ended up working out quite well, but in terms of on-court salary? Not even close.

LeBron James (L) with Michael Jordan (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Jordan played 15 years in the NBA and made $93,877,500, per Spotrac. In his final season, the 2002-2003 campaign with the Washington Wizards, the salary cap actually decreased by more than 5%. The salary cap for the entire league was $40,271,000.

LeBron will be making more than that this season alone. His two-year, $104 million will pay him $52 million per season.

James has had several of these "one-plus-one" contracts where the second year is a player option. This gives him the flexibility to opt out after the first year and rework his contract to earn more with the increased salary cap.

Whether or not LeBron does the same this time around, he's going to hit another milestone. After this season, he'll be the first player in NBA history to top half a billion dollars in on-court earnings.

Oh, and don't feel too bad for Jordan. He may not have earned a ton on the court, but he continues to make a ton from sponsorship deals, notably Nike. His Jordan Brand royalties brought in $330 million last year, pushing his net worth close to $3 billion.

LeBron's not quite there yet, though his basketball earnings have given him a solid push toward billionaire status.

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