The Los Angeles Lakers agreed to a contract extension with star LeBron James worth $97.1 million over two years, including a player option for the 2024-25 season, according to his agency, Klutch Sports Group. James was set to become a free agent after the upcoming season.
If the four-time MVP exercises the option, the payday will push his career on-court earnings to $529 million, according to Spotrac. The tally is tops all-time in U.S. sports, based on current guaranteed contracts. The previous high was $499 million for fellow NBA star Kevin Durant, who is about to start a four-year, $194 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. Three-time MLB MVP Mike Trout is third at $480 million.
James was limited to a two-year extension due to a rule in the NBA CBA for players who are 38 or older. LeBron will turn 38 in December. The value of the extension is based on current salary projections for the 2023-24 season.
The four-time NBA champion has made a killing on the court, but his off-court earnings are more than twice as high. Last year, he became the first NBA player to earn at least $1 billion while still active—Michael Jordan hit 10-figures after his retirement. Since being drafted in 2003, James has earned $370 million in salary—net of escrow deductions—and an estimated $790 million from endorsements, merchandise, licensing and his media business.
James earned $127 million during the 12 months ending May 2022 and ranked first in Sportico’s tally of the world’s highest-paid athletes. His endorsement partners include Nike, GMC, AT&T, Rimowa, Walmart, PepsiCo and Crypto.com. He also has equity stakes in Blaze Pizza, Calm, Fenway Sports Group, Ladder/Openfit and Lobos 1707 tequila.
Last year, James and his longtime business partner, Maverick Carter, sold a minority stake in their production company, The SpringHill Company, to a consortium led by RedBird Capital Partners, which also included Nike, Epic Games and FSG. The deal valued the company at $725 million. SpringHill’s revenue is expected to top $100 million in 2022.
The Lakers missed the playoffs last season, but the 18-time All-Star continues to perform at a high level. His scoring average of 30.3 points per game was his highest since the 2005-06 season. James is 1,325 points shy of matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.