As a reminder of both the Lakers’ star power and the challenges the front office faces dealing with a bloated payroll, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol rank among Sports Illustrated’s list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes.
Kobe Bryant ranked fourth overall with $27.85 million in salary and $19 million in endorsements. Dwight Howard finished 31st with $19.5 million in salary and $2.4 million in endorsements. And Pau Gasol slid in at 37th with $19 million in salary and $2.1 million in endorsements.
Bryant’s $19 million in endorsements nearly matches the earnings Howard and Gasol have in salary and trumpets his other teammates’ salaries. Although Bryant has had a long-standing relationship with Nike, SI noted his earnings aren’t as high as James for a number of reasons. In addition to James’ Nike contract, he has sponsors with Baskin-Robbins and Samsung and also owns part of the Liverpool soccer club. Bryant also has sponsors with SmartCar and Lenovo.
Meanwhile, SI believes Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Miami’s Dwayne Wade, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, New York’s Carmelo Anthony and New York’s Amare Stoudemire surpasses Howard in earnings partly because of image problems. The magazine quoted advertising experts that blame Howard’s “bad attitude in recent years” hurting his marketability. Howard has only contracts with Adidas, Gatorade and Acuvue. Meanwhile, Gasol has partnerships with Nike and what SI described as a “lucrative relationship” with Banco Popular in his native Spain.
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