Graphic Shows How Much NBA Salaries Have Skyrocketed

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers warms up before the game against the Orlando Magic at Moda Center on February 08, 2022 in Portland, Oregon.
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)


There is no doubt that being a basketball player in the NBA is incredibly hard work – but at least it pays well.

Signing a contract with an NBA team is a massive deal for players, and not just because it allows these young stars to finally follow their dreams and play professional ball.

The contracts also provide gigantic payouts that literally change lives with just the stroke of a pen.

And the amount of money these athletes make is growing by leaps and bounds annually.

For example, back in the 1984-85 season, Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers earned $2.5 million, the highest salary at the time.

Skip ahead to the 2001-02 season and Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves was pulling in $22 million, which was the new highest payday.

And in the upcoming 2026-27 season, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers is going to earn $63 million.

That is an eye-popping figure but it will soon be dwarfed by other, larger numbers.

The amount that NBA stars are getting paid is only going up, up, up.


Players Getting Paid

Lillard’s $63 million is obviously a massive haul but there is no doubt that it’ll be overshadowed soon by an even bigger amount.

Lillard’s deal was part of his latest contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

In the new year, there are other prodigious NBA stars who will need to negotiate extensions – and someone in the league will earn an amount larger than Lillard’s.

It’s hard to even wrap your head around the sort of money that All-Stars pull.

More than a few people have said that it’s too much money but that’s just the way that professional sports have always been.

People might complain but there is no chance that the NBA will start to bring these numbers down.

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