Basketball

The Highest-Paid NBA Players By Season

Did you know that LeBron James has been the highest-paid player in a season just once? And Michael Jordan just twice? Madness, right?

Well, for some more crazy facts and figures, check out our list of highest-paid NBA players by season.

Magic Johnson (84/85 – 86/87)

1984-1985 – Magic Johnson ($2.5 Million)

1985-1986 – Magic Johnson ($2.5 Million)

1986-1987 – Magic Johnson ($2.5 Million)

$2.5 million might not seem like much for an NBA star by today’s standards, but considering the league’s salary cap was just $3.6 million in 1984-85 (with the average salary being $300,000), Magic wasn’t doing too badly at all. It’s also worth noting that $2.5 million in 1984 is the equivalent to $6.6 million today.

Patrick Ewing (87/88 – 90/91) 

1987-1988 – Patrick Ewing ($2.75 Million)

1988-1989 – Patrick Ewing ($3.25 Million)

1989 -1990 – Patrick Ewing ($3.75 Million)

1990-1991 – Patrick Ewing ($4.25 Million)

Playing in the league’s biggest market, the Knicks weren’t short on cash and they paid their biggest star accordingly. Interestingly, Michael Jordan was taking the league by storm at the time, but he was still quite a few years away from claiming the mantle of the league’s highest-paid player.

Larry Bird (91/92)   

1991-1992 – Larry Bird ($7.1 Million)

Larry Bird was in the final season of his storied career when he led the league is salary thanks to the structure of his backloaded contract. He wasn’t quite the Larry Legend of old that year but still averaged 20.2 points and 9.6 rebounds anyway, all while talking as much trash as ever.

David Robinson (92/93 – 93/94) 

1992-1993 – David Robinson ($5.7 Million)

1993-1994 – David Robinson ($5.7 Million)

Robinson received All-NBA First Team honours in ’91 and ’92 and was also Defensive Player of the Year. Solid investment by the Spurs.

Magic Johnson (94/95) 

1994-1995 – Magic Johnson ($14.7 Million)

Magic had been out of the league for four years before making a brief comeback in 1994-95. He wasn’t his old self (although he could still hoop) and this was a case of the Lakers taking care of one of their all-time greats.

Patrick Ewing (95/96) 

1995-1996 – Patrick Ewing ($18.7 Million)

Ewing Theory be damned, the Knicks were paying the man like crazy anyway.

Michael Jordan (96/97 – 97/98)

1996-1997 – Michael Jordan ($30.1 Million)

1997-1998 – Michael Jordan ($33.1 Million)

With the GOAT only leading the league in salary for two years, the reality is he was grossly underpaid for the majority of his career.

Patrick Ewing (98/99) 

1998-1999 – Patrick Ewing ($18.5 Million)

Ewing was 36 years old at this point, but he was still getting them checks.

Shaquille O’Neal (99/00) 

1999-2000 – Shaquille O’Neal ($17.1 Million)

There weren’t many players you’d rather have than prime Shaq. Give that man all the money he wants.

Kevin Garnett (00/01 – 03/04) 

2000-2001 – Kevin Garnett ($19.6 Million)

2001-2002 – Kevin Garnett ($22.4 Million)

2002-2003 – Kevin Garnett ($25.2 Million)

2003-2004 – Kevin Garnett ($28 Million)

KG’s time in Minnesota was great for his back pocket, just not so much for his trophy cabinet.

Shaquille O’Neal (04/05 – 05/06) 

2004-2005 – Shaquille O’Neal ($27.7 Million)

2005-2006 – Shaquille O’Neal ($20 Million)

These were the last few of star-level Shaq years and Miami paid him according, capitalising with a championship in 2006.

Kevin Garnett (06/07 – 08/09) 

2006-2007 – Kevin Garnett ($21 Million)

2007-2008 – Kevin Garnett (23.7 Million)

2008-2009 Kevin Garnett ($24.7 Million)

After all those years of losing in Minnesota, KG got a chip and the bag in Boston.

Kobe Bryant (09/10 – 15/16) 

2009-2010 – Kobe Bryant ($23.0 Million)

2010-2011 – Kobe Bryant ($24.8 Million)

2011-2012 – Kobe Bryant (25.2 Million)

2012-2013 – Kobe Bryant ($30.4 Million)

2013-2014 – Kobe Bryant ($30.4 Million)

2014-2015 – Kobe Bryant ($23.5 Million)

2015-2016 – Kobe Bryant ($25 Million)

The Lakers paid Kobe mind-blowing amounts of money, and he was worth every last cent. And remember, these numbers are from before the salary cap spiked to what it is today.

LeBron James (16-17) 

2016-2017 – LeBron James (30.9 Million)

Much like MJ, LeBron hasn’t spent much time at all in the number one spot salary wise.

Steph Curry (17/18 onwards) 

2017-2018 – Stephen Curry ($34.6 Million)

2018-2019 – Stephen Curry ($37.4 Million)

2019-2020 – Stephen Curry ($40.2 Million)

2020-2021 – Stephen Curry (43.0 Million)

2021-2022 – Stephen Curry ($45.7 Million)

2022-2023 – Stephen Curry ($48.0 Million)

2023-2024 – Stephen Curry ($51.9 Million)

2024-2025 – Stephen Curry ($55.7 Million)

2025-2026 – Stephen Curry ($59.6 Million)

Steph revolutionised the game, and in return the Warriors revolutionised his bank account. After signing a four-year contract extension worth $215 million earlier this year, Curry is slated to be the highest-paid player in the league for years to come.

The post The Highest-Paid NBA Players By Season appeared first on Basketball Forever.