LeBron James: Career Earnings

Jordyn Hester
2 min readMar 2, 2021


At the start of his career, Lebron James was earning about $4 million. Over the course of 17 years, James’ salary increased about 831% to over $37 million a year. It’s important to note that these numbers do not include endorsements.

The 6-foot-9 NBA player began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. While in Cleveland James received a significant salary increase in 2007, with him making about $7 million more in the 2007–08 season than in 2006–07. In that season James took the Cavaliers to their first championship series, according to the NBA website.

James’ salary decreased about 8.1% when he went to the Miami Heat in 2010, going from almost $16 million a year to $14.5 million. This pay cut was due to the recruitment of other talented NBA stars, according to businessinsider.com. The following season, his salary was increased to over $16 million, which was more than the Cleveland Cavaliers had paid him at that time. By the end of his career with the Miami Heat, Lebron James’ salary was just over $19 million, making a total of $67 million with the team.

After the 2013–14 season, James was looking to be paid maximum salary. In that year, according to ESPN, max salary was projected at about $20.7 million. This is an 81% difference in comparison to his 2019–20 salary, which is over $37 million. At that time, James was not exclusively signed to a team. He ultimately re-joined the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2014–15 season, five years after playing with them before. His salary was $20.6 million.

His salary continued to increase. After winning the NBA Championship with the Cavaliers in 2016, his salary increased by almost $8 million, putting it at almost $30.1 million for the 2016–17 season. During his second run with them team, James made over $107 million.

For the 2018–19 season, LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. He started out making about $35 million a year, and for the 2019–20 season made about $37 million. His total career earning total up to over $310 million. According to Insider.com, LeBron James is the highest paid NBA player in history as of December 2020.