LeBron James is about to become the highest-earning basketball player in history.
Basketball player LeBron James has signed a two-year, $97-million extension with the Los Angeles Lakers, with a player option for a third year.
The extension makes James the highest-earning player in NBA history with $532 million in career guaranteed money, surpassing Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, reports ESPN
He may be a free agent after two seasons or negotiate a new deal with the Lakers.
Why it’s news
Increasingly athletes are becoming the nation’s top moneymakers, earning hundreds of millions of dollars from both their athletic activities and their outside business ventures. Along with Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, LeBron James is part of this group of super-wealthy basketball players. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, “James has won four NBA championships, four NBA MVP awards, four NBA Finals MVP awards, three All-Star MVP awards,” says Bloomberg.
He is also 38 years old and facing the end of his career. The deal prevents him from being traded for at least the next season. He is now positioned alongside fellow Lakers player Anthony Davis to be the “centerpiece of the Lakers’ contention hopes,” says ESPN.
Backing up a bit
The news might also be part of the basketball star’s long-term business plan. CBS Sports analyst Bill Reiter notes that the decision has likely committed James “to a level of short-term professional mediocrity that seems counterintuitive for an all-time ambitious superstar hellbent on passing Michael Jordan as the game’s greatest ever player.”
LeBron James has expressed interest in playing alongside his son Bronny James, who is graduating from high school next year and is eligible for the NBA draft in 2024.
That exposure and creation of legacy may position James for future business promotions and opportunities. “The strategy behind this new deal is equal parts personal over the professional and long-term branding,” says Reiter.