What are the most expensive shoe deals in the NBA? How Michael Jordan still dwarfs LeBron James, Stephen Curry

What are the most expensive shoe deals in the NBA? How Michael Jordan still dwarfs LeBron James, Stephen Curry

Despite not having laced up some of his signature shoes on an NBA floor since April 16, 2003, Michael Jordan still reigns supreme when it comes to NBA sneaker deals. 

Jordan’s signature line opened the way for players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and others to capitalize and earn significant money from a shoe line. 

As sneaker culture grew and became more mainstream, so did the money invested by the sneaker companies in the hope of landing that once-in-a-lifetime marketable talent like Jordan.

For players, securing a sneaker deal is another stamp of validation that they have arrived as an NBA star.  

So, if Jordan still sits atop the mountain when it comes to money earned from sneakers, which are some of the other richest deals in the NBA today? 

The Sporting News has you covered right here.  

Who are the biggest earners from sneaker deals in the NBA? 

Here are the top deals in terms of average annual value. As you can see, Michael Jordan still reigns supreme.

Player Brand  Annual Value
Michael Jordan Jordan Brand $150,000,000
LeBron James Nike $32,000,000
Kevin Durant Nike $28,000,000
Stephen Curry Under Armour $20,000,000
James Harden  Adidas $14,000,000
Zion Williamson Jordan Brand $12,000,000
Dwyane Wade Li-Ning $12,000,000
Giannis Antetokounmpo Nike $12,000,000
Russell Westbrook Jordan Brand $11,000,000
Kyrie Irving  Nike $11,000,000

Michael Jordan – $150,000,000 

While his earnings during his playing career were impressive, Jordan has been able to amass the majority of his estimated $1.6 billion fortune since retirement. 

A lot of his yearly income now comes from his company Jordan Brand – a sub-division of Nike – which in 2021 alone generated $4.7 billion in revenue.  

The sneaker market is now dominated by re-releases of old Jordans and Air Force 1s, versus the performance market which has seen its market share decrease. Retro sales generated $3.9 billion in sales in 2020, according to Matt Powell of the NPD Group.  

When Jordan first signed his Nike deal in 1984 it was worth $500,000 annually plus royalties. 

What did Jordan earn in 2021? $150,000,000. Jordan makes an estimated five percent off each sale of Air Jordans around the world. 

Jordan more than four times as much as LeBron James. And he hasn’t even laced up in an NBA game in two decades. 

How about that, huh?   

LeBron James – $32,000,000

James was quickly identified by sneaker brands as the ‘next’ Jordan while in high school and a bidding war erupted to get the ‘Chosen One’ to sign with them. Adidas thought it was front runner, while Reebok tabled an estimated $115 million offer to James. 

He turned that down, instead signing with Nike for $90 million, although in 2016 he reportedly signed a lifetime deal with the Swoosh which his business manager Maverick Carter says is worth up to $1 billion. 


James Harden – $14,000,000 

Adidas lured James Harden away from rival Nike back in 2015 with the promise of making him one of the faces of their Adidas Basketball line. 

Oh, and the reported 13-year, $200 million deal didn’t hurt either. 

Nike had the right to match but opted not to. 

Kobe Bryant 

It should be noted that the late Lakers icon was not listed in the top ten as his deal with Nike had expired in 2021.

After almost one year with no agreement with any sneaker company, Bryant’s estate, helmed by his wife Vanessa, reached an agreement on a new deal with Nike. 

The terms of that deal have not been disclosed. 

Prior to his passing though, Bryant earned an estimated $16 million per year from Nike.

Bryant branded Nike products raked in $250 million in sales in 2020. 

Dwyane Wade – $12,000,000

Wade began his sneaker history with Converse where he had a signature shoe, before jumping across to Jordan Brand for a few seasons before being lured away by Chinese company Li-Ning. 

The company offered the Heat superstar an 8-year, $10 million deal, but in 2018 Wade’s deal with the brand transitioned to a lifetime deal and he is now Chief Brand Officer of Li-Ning and established his own Way of Wade sub-brand.