Speaking of LeBron, he’s been one of the NBA’s top endorsers since the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him in 2003. His current endorsement partners include Nike, McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Samsung Electronics Samsung Electronics, Upper Deck, Audemars Piguet and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Bryant is no slouch either. The most popular player in China counts Nike among his endorsement partners as well as Turkish Air, Lenovo, Hublot and Panini for merchandise.
Overall, the NBA’s top 10 endorsers brought in $155 million last year, according to Forbes. The product with the most earned from sports stars is shoes. The NBA’s top endorsers fetch more than $10 million annually from Nike and Adidas. Almost half of James’ off-court money comes from Nike. The Miami Heat all-star ended up as the NBA’s leading shoe salesman in 2013 with $300 million in retail sales in the U.S. of his Nike signature shoes, according to research firm SportsOneSource.
For Bryant, the focus is international as he’s capitalized on dealing with companies based overseas. The LA Lakers star has made trips to China the past eight years for Nike. Since partnering Turkish Airlines in 2010, Bryant has been featured in commercials with global soccer star Lionel Messi.
Like Bryant, James has put his international appeal to good use with his Dunkin’ Donuts deal for Asia only. Last year, he began a new partnership with Chinese Internet services firm Tencent.
The following is a list of the top NBA endorsers for 2014:
Player/total endorsement income/shoe sponsor
LeBron James: $42 million (Nike)
Kobe Bryant: $34 million (Nike)
Derrick Rose: $21 million (Adidas)
Kevin Durant: $14 million (Nike)
Dwyane Wade: $12 million (Li Ning)
Carmelo Anthony: $9 million (Jordan/Nike)
Amar’e Stoudemire: $6.5 million (Nike)
Dwight Howard: $6 million (Adidas)
Blake Griffin: $6 million (Jordan/Nike)
Chris Paul: $4 million (Jordan/Nike)