1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The highest-paid NBA athlete in 2021 is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Dubbed the ‘Greek Freak’ in reference to his nationality and superb performances, Antetokounmpo earns a staggering $45 million per year.
Antetokounmpo began playing basketball competitively in his early teenage years. At the age of 18, he entered the 2013 NBA draft and signed his rookie contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, who he has played for ever since.
In December 2020, Antetokounmpo signed the most lucrative contract in NBA league history. He re-signed with the Milwaukee Bucks, agreeing to extend his contract for a further five years at a value of 228 million dollars!
2. Stephen Curry
Coming in in second place is Stephen Curry has been dubbed the best shooter in NBA history. Playing for the Golden State Warriors, Curry is a seven-time NBA All-Star, has won three NBA championships, and was named the NBA Most Valuable Player twice.
Stephen Curry earns around $40 million per year on the court. He is also a big earner off the court, raking in a massive $40 million in endorsements last year. Curry recently announced his new brand backed by Under Armour. Currently worth around 20 million dollars per year and set to grow, the brand features a collection of apparel, footwear, and accessories.
3. Russell Westbrook
In third place is Russell Westbrook, who currently earns $38.5 million playing for the Washington Wizards. Westbrook achieved NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player for two consecutive years in 2015 and 2016. He also won the league Most Valuable Player award in 2017. In the same year, he became one of only two players to average a triple-double in a season.
Russell is also a big earner off the court. Owing mainly to his lucrative partnership with Nike, he raked in a massive $58.1 million last year.
4. Chris Paul
In fourth place is Phoenix Suns’ player Chris Paul who earns a salary of $38.5 million. Like all players on the list, Chris has an impressive array of accolades to his name. He has won two Olympic gold medals, an NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player award, and an NBA Rookie of the Year.
Chris Paul is the current NBA Players Association President, a role which he has had since 2013. It is estimated that he has earned a cool $7 million in endorsements over the last year from brands such as Air Jordan and State Farm.
5. John Wall
The fifth highest-earning NBA star is John Wall. Playing for the Houston Rockets, he earns a salary of $38.2 million annually. After playing a single year of college basketball, he began his NBA career with the Washington Wizards in 2010. He was traded for Russell Westbrook recently, in 2020, with the Houston Rockets
John is a five-time NBA All-Star, was NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion in 2014, and won SEC Player of the Year back in 2010. Forbes has estimated that John earns around $2.5 million each year from endorsements, owing mainly to his current sneaker deal with Adidas. He is also the ambassador of New Era caps.