Meet the Seven NBA Stars Who Became Successful Entrepreneurs

NBA players are among the most powerful athletes in the world. Their impact is felt both on and off the field. Aside from the large salaries they receive on the court, they also generate money through endorsement deals. In recent years, an increasing number of NBA players have added entrepreneurship to their retirement plans.

Seven influential NBA players who went on to become entrepreneurs are listed below.

1. LeBron James

According to Forbes, LeBron James now has a net worth of $1 billion, making him the first active NBA player to become a billionaire. James, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star, has “maximized his business,” making more than $1.2 billion in pretax earnings. “As the NBA’s highest-paid active player, he has earned more than $385 million in salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers.” According to Forbes, “off the court, he has raked in upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures.”

James began playing basketball as a child, having been born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. Basketball quickly became a way of life for him, and he thrived when he joined his primary school basketball team. He received his Nike endorsement agreement when he was only 18 years old. The basketball star’s contract with Nike, as well as deals with AT&T, PepsiCo, and Walmart, has elevated him to the world’s second-highest-earning athlete.

The four-time NBA champion is also the founder of SpringHill Entertainment, which helped develop “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a film in which he appeared that grossed $163 million worldwide.

 

2. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is one of the highest-paid NBA players off the court, because to his engagement in numerous business ventures. Kevin Wayne Durant was born in Washington in 1988, and his father abandoned him when he was a baby. His parents split, and as a result, he was raised by his grandmother in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on the outskirts of Washington.

He began his professional NBA career after being picked by the Seattle SuperSonics for the 2007 season, which became the Thunder after the team relocated to Oklahoma City. For the season, he was awarded NBA Rookie of the Year. He finished third as the Most Improved Player in the 2009 season. Durant was selected to the first NBA All-Star Game during the 2009-10 season, and he went on to become the NBA’s youngest scoring champion with a point total of 30.1 points.

His signing fees and endorsement deals increased in tandem with his on-court prowess. Prior to the 2010-2011 season, he agreed to a five-year, $86 million contract extension with the Thunder. He left the Thunder in 2016 to join the Golden State Warriors, signing a two-year contract costing $54.3 million and a contract extension worth $61.5 million in 2018. In 2019, he inked a sign-and-trade agreement with the Brooklyn Nets.

Off the court, Durant has had a number of entrepreneurial successes. According to rumors, Kevin has earned $36 million in endorsement fees from brands such as Gatorade, Nike, Degree, and others.

Thirty-Five Ventures, his investment business, has made at least 75 investments, including microlender Acorns, stock trading site Robinhood, esports group Andbox, and cloud data management provider Rubric.

He recently achieved success with Coinbase and Postmates Delivery Rider. He spent $250,000 in 2017 and supposedly got $13.5 million when the company went public recently. In addition, Uber paid $2.65 billion for Postmates, valuing Durant’s investment at $15 million.

 

3. Junior Bridgeman

Bridgeman Sports and Media is owned by Junior Bridgeman, a former NBA player turned entrepreneur. After a successful effort to purchase the bankrupt media organization for $14 million, his company recently became the new owner of Ebony Magazine.

The former NBA great spent ten seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks before joining the Los Angeles Clippers for two seasons. After retirement, he created and sold one of the largest restaurant franchisees in the United States.

Ebony was not his first effort to acquire a media company. He attempted to acquire Sports Illustrated but later dropped the project. He became the owner of the Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Lenexa, Kansas, which has a distribution zone that covers Kansas, Missouri, and Southern Illinois.

 

4. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson, born Earvin Johnson Jr., is an NBA Hall of Famer who was honored for the first time in 2002 for his solo career and again in 2010 as a member of the Dream Team. His spectacular NBA career lasted seventeen years, from 1979 to 1996.

Johnson was chosen in 1979 and spent 13 seasons as a point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, 12 All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nods are among his career accomplishments.

While enjoying his NBA career, Johnson had an eye for business. When his basketball career ended, his desire to become a businessman led him to form a relationship with famed super-agent Michael Ovitz, who taught him how to be a great businesswoman.

He now owns many enterprises. Forbes claimed last month that he is now a billionaire. According to the magazine, his new financial status followed a prosperous post-basketball career as an investor in professional sports teams, movie theaters, Starbucks cafés, and a health insurance company. Johnson’s net worth is estimated to be $1.2 billion by Forbes.

 

5. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry has routinely rated among the highest-paid players since joining the Warriors. Curry joined the Warriors as the seventh overall choice in the 2009 draft and has amassed a fortune since then.

Marca reported that he signed a contract extension worth 215 million dollars over four years in August 2021 and would earn 48 million dollars in 2022/23, rising to 59.6 million dollars in the last year of the contract in 2025/26.

Curry has endorsement deals with Under Armour, Chase, Vivo, eHi, Nissan/Infiniti, Brita, Bubble, and JBL, and his off-court earnings are believed to be $42 million.

 

6. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, after leaving from the NBA, pursued entrepreneurship and became one of the world’s few Black millionaires. His paycheck from Nike, his main financial and marketing backer, accounts for a sizable portion of his fortune.

In 2021, he was the highest-paid athlete of all time. He led the list with $2.62 billion, according to Sportico, with at least $1 billion coming from Nike as royalties after his retirement from the NBA.

 

7. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is possibly the best thing that has ever happened in the NBA. The 7′ 1′′, 325-pound monster grew up in the ‘Projects’ of Newark, New Jersey, in a low-income family.

He has rebuilt himself as an entrepreneur after leaving the NBA, with a broad portfolio that includes 155 Five Guys restaurants, 40 24-Hour Fitness gyms, and a significant share in Authentic Brands, which owns Forever 21, Barneys New York, JC Penney, and Reebok.

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