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LeBron James first active player recognized as billionaire

James Corden and Lebron JamesJames Corden and Lebron James

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - MAY 06: James Corden and Lebron James attend American Express Presents CARBONE Beach at Carbone on May 06, 2022 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Carbone Beach)

Getty Images for Carbone Beach

While pursuing LeBron James in 2010 free agency, the Knicks reportedly told him he had a 50% chance of earning $1 billion in New York, a 1% chance with the Cavaliers and a 0% chance with the Heat.

Once again, the Knicks were wrong.

LeBron of course signed with Miami then returned to Cleveland, raising his stature at each stop. Now with the Lakers, he’s continuing on a money-making course established well before he ever arrived in Los Angeles.

Chase Peterson-Withorn of Forbes:

LeBron James–18-time NBA all-star, 4-time NBA champion, 2-time Olympic gold medalist–has hit yet another milestone, this time doing something no other NBA player has ever done.

After another monster year of earnings–totaling $121.2 million last year–Forbes estimates that James has officially become a billionaire, while still playing hoops.

There’s nothing official about this. It’s an estimate. LeBron’s net worth might be a little less than a billion. It might be more.

But the overall picture: LeBron is unprecedentedly rich for an active player.

Michael Jordan became recognized as a billionaire in 2014. But that was long after his playing career, due in part to the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets increasing in value under his ownership.

Unfortunately for LeBron, that’s because all NBA teams’ values have skyrocketed in recent years (ironically, in part, due to LeBron’s own popularity). So, even with this milestone, there are still limits on how large of an ownership share LeBron can afford when he pursues his longstanding goal of buying a team.

That said, LeBron will earn a lot more money before he retires and becomes eligible for ownership. The 37-year-old will be eligible for a lucrative contract extension this summer, and he will remain a high-profile endorser long after his playing career ends.

A billion dollars is far more than just the start for the “kid from Akron.” But it’s not close to the end, either.