While NBA players wonder where their next paycheck is coming from due to the lockout, one former player is having no problem collecting large sums of money since his playing days ended. Michael Jordan, recognized by most as the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, is doing quite well in retirement.
According to Forbes magazine, Jordan is making more money now than he ever did as a member of the Chicago Bulls, when he won six championships in eight years, following a brief hiatus to pursue a professional baseball career.
Forbes estimates that Jordan, now majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats who also receives a percentage of all sales of his Jordan Brand shoes from Nike, earned more than $60 million from endorsements. Jordan maintains endorsement deals with Gatorade, Hanes, Upper Deck and 2K Sports. He also owns five restaurants and a car dealership in North Carolina.
Forbes reports that at the height of his basketball career, Jordan made $50 million off the court through endorsement deals, meaning his star is only rising. Jordan Brand shoes account for 71 percent of the basketball shoe market, with Nike (22 percent), adidas (3 percent) and Reebok (2 percent) trailing far behind.
Jordan also owns 80 percent of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, which he purchased from billionaire Robert Johnson, the former head of BET. In the purchase, he assumed much of the debt ($150 million) for a team losing around $20 million annually. Sources estimate that the deal was worth around $175 million, which is a steal considering the concessions owners are seeking from the players in the latest round of collective bargaining.
Jordan has been pushing for increased revenue sharing among the league’s teams, as well as a hard salary cap, which would allow teams such as the Bobcats to compete with the larger market teams in terms of the salaries paid to players. The NBA champion Dallas Mavericks had total salaries of over $86 million. The Bobcats carried a $65 million payroll for the 2010-11 NBA season.
Jordan may play a huge role in how the lockout discussions play out because of his unique perspective of having been a player and now serving as an owner. Jordan, who was severely underpaid throughout the majority of his career (he made $3 million per year until his last two years, when he made $30 million and $33 million), is now on the other side of the table, seeking to put a cap on the salaries of today’s players. The NBA recently fined him $100,000 for comments he made concerning the lockout. But when you’re making $60 million in endorsements, in addition to whatever the Bobcats bring in, what’s $100,000?