It's no secret that between million-dollar salaries and endorsement deals, basketball players are some of the wealthiest athletes around, but a select few can claim to be the top 10 richest basketball players ever. While not surprising, the top name on the list hasn't played in several years, but is perhaps the most-recognizable athlete ever.
Michael Jordan Although retired, Michael Jordan comes in as the richest basketball player ever, earning an estimated $45 million each year. In addition to being the face of Nike, with his brand topping $1 billion annually, the basketball legend is also part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
- LeBron James Ranked as the third-richest athlete of any sport in the United States, LeBron James is easily the richest basketball player currently active in the league. His $14.4 million annually salary pales in comparison to his $28 million in endorsement deals, which include McDonald's, Nike, Sprite and Upper Deck.
Shaquille O'Neal. After signing a $100 million deal with the Miami Heat, even a trade to the Phoenix Suns and then the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn't bump Shaquille O'Neal from the list of richest basketball players ever.
- Kevin Garnett A fixture for the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett topped the team in total salary in 2009, earning an estimated $24.75 million. Add in another $10 million for endorsements from Adidas and Gatorade and Garnett is easily one of the richest basketball players ever.
Kobe Bryant. With a handful of championship rings, Kobe Bryant remains one of the highest-paid basketball players in the National Basketball Association. In addition to receiving $21 million annually from the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant also earns $10 million each year in endorsements.
- Allen Iverson. Despite his problems on and off the court, Allen Iverson remains of the richest basketball players in the league, making nearly $22 million in salary and bonuses. Throw in a $5 million a year lifetime endorsement deal with Reebok, and Iverson also ranks as the eighth highest-paid athlete in the country.
- Dwyane Wade. The key player for the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade not only led the league in jersey sales from 2005 to 2007, but also earns roughly $12 million each season from deals with Gatorade, Topps, Converse and Lincoln. Add another nearly $15 million in annual salary to put Wade clearly in the top ten of the richest NBA players.
Dwight Howard. Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard only earns about $14 million in salary annually, but his pay is easily eclipsed with his efforts off the court.
Tracy McGrady. While he lags in endorsements behind other big names on the list of 10 richest basketball players ever, Tracy McGrady's annual salary of over $21 million allows him to compete with the others on this list.
- Tim Duncan. Topping the San Antonio Spurs with a nearly $21 million salary, Duncan is perhaps one of the most under-paid NBA players in terms of corporate sponsorship, but still closes out the list of ten richest basketball players with a total near $25 million a year.