Sports Illustrated ranks Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol among highest earning athletes

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.

RELATED:

Kobe Bryant shows gruesome image of Achilles’ surgery

Steve Clifford to interview next week with Charlotte Bobcats

Pau Gasol will sit out of 2013 FIBA European Championships

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email