Biggest Basketball Shoe Deals

NBA salaries are among some of the biggest paychecks in the sporting industry.

At the beginning of every season, the league publishes a list of the salaries that players earn, with Stephen Curry set to earn the highest salary in the 2018 season. Curry will rake in a massive $34.7m this season.

His salary had previously been considered one of the biggest bargains in basketball, signed when there were still doubts over his long-term fitness because of the questionable long-term health of his ankles. Following his new deal, he replaces LeBron James as the highest paid player, and he’s not alone in earning a massive pay check.

In total, 27 players are listed as earning a salary of $23m or more. What’s more, their salary is only the beginning, with players bringing in additional funds from sponsorship deals. Some players, including those that have been retired for 10 years, also bring in huge sums from their own lines of basketball shoes. Here are the 6 biggest basketball shoe deals currently in force.

6 – Stephen Curry, Under Armour – $12m
Curry may have managed to dislodge LeBron James as the highest paid basketball player on salary, but he still has some way to go before he can match James’ basketball shoes deal, although an improved deal means that his $12m a year deal with Under Armour certainly isn’t to be sniffed at.

Curry left Nike in 2013 and joined the relatively new brand Under Armour. He went on to become MVP two seasons in a row, and the player has recently signed an improved deal as a result. He also owns stock in Under Armour, although their stock price hasn’t reflected the same price increases as Curry himself. The point guard’s Curry 3 shoes have outsold the previous Curry 2 model, but Under Armour overproduced so they didn’t profit as much as they should have.

5 – James Harden, Adidas – $14m
James Harden arguably benefited from the ongoing battle between Nike and Adidas. Adidas have overpaid their NBA stars in order to try and drag back some of the 90% market share that Nike holds, and Harden is one player that they signed on potentially inflated terms. He signed for the sports giant in 2015 for a deal reputedly worth as much as $200m.
The first shoes released under the deal, Harden Vol 1., were launched in October 2015 and have now been replaced by the Harden Vol. 2 model.

4 – Kobe Bryant, Nike – $16m
Kobe Bryant is the first NBA star in the list that no longer plays the game, but still rakes in massive profits from their own line of shoes, and with good reason. He retired as the league’s third all-time leading scorer and was the first guard to play 20 seasons or more.

Despite not having played in the NBA since 2016, the Mamba is still bringing in $16m a year from his shoe deal with giants Nike, and as well as the latest Kobe A.D. Mid, there are also reports that the company will launch a Zoom Kobe 1 retro version of his earlier basketball shoes. They are almost certain to sell in huge numbers as fans have been calling for a retro version for some time now.

3 – Kevin Durant, Nike – $25m
The $25m a year that Kevin Durant earns is a significant jump from Bryant’s deal. Durant initially signed a 7-year, rookie shoe deal with giants Nike, worth $60m. Since then, he has penned a 10 year extension to the deal worth $300m including royalties. Although the Durant signature line’s sales have dropped off recently, they are still ranked as being the fourth bestselling of all signature line shoes. Durant’s shoes have the brand Zoom KDX.

2 – LeBron James, Nike – $32m
Nike certainly aren’t afraid to splash the cash to get the names they want for basketball shoes. LeBron James earned the highest paying rookie-shoe deal in history with a 7 year deal that netted him more than $100m. James certainly isn’t shy, and has said that his goal is to become a billionaire, and his latest deal with Nike will go some way to helping him achieve the goal. That rookie deal was signed by Aaron Goodwin, who was also Durant’s manager when he signed the second biggest ever rookie-shoe deal. If there are any aspiring basketball players reading this, Goodwin is clearly the man to get the big deals for new players.

Despite a dip in James’ shoe sales, he still sells more than any other active player, and the size of his deal with Nike, with whom he signed a lifetime extension in 2015, certainly portrays this popularity. His manager has said that the deal could well earn him the 10 figure sum that he is looking for, although it would mean that he would have to keep selling his signature line long after he retires.

1 – Michael Jordan, Nike – $110m
One player that shows it is definitely possible to sell shoes even after retirement is the eponymous Michael Jordan. He retired in 1993 but returned in 1995. He retired again in 1999, but came back for another two seasons between 2001 and 2003. The fact that he is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and aged 55, it should be relatively safe to assume that he won’t be making a return from retirement this time around.

Jordan won 5 MVP awards, was listed in the All-NBA team ten times, and won 10-scoring titles, among many other player and team accolades. He is generally considered to be the best basketball player ever, and it is difficult to argue considering his career stats and awards.

The first Nike Air Jordan were launched in 1985 and still remain popular today, and although his Air Jordan XXXI sales may have dipped, Nike’s Jordan revenues still amassed a huge $2.8bn for the year ending May 2016. In this context, the $110m conservative estimate (which is more than the rest of the list together make) that basketball’s first billionaire is set to earn from the deal actually looks a genuine bargain from Nike’s perspective.

These are just 6 players and retired players to be bring in huge sums of money from their own basketball sneakers, and you can read our reviews of these and other signature lines on the best basketball shoes page.