Michael Jordan's NBA career earnings examined

ESPN's 'The Last Dance' explores the Chicago Bulls legend's career.

Michael Jordan is one of the only athletes in history to become a billionaire, but a surprisingly small portion of his earnings came from his NBA career.

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By the time Jordan retired for the third and final time in 2003, he had earned about $97.3 million in salary during 16 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. The majority of his salary came from the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons with the Bulls, when he made a combined $63.28 million during a two-year span.

WHAT IS MICHAEL JORDAN'S NET WORTH?

Despite a decorated NBA career that includes six championships and nearly every individual accolade possible, Jordan ranks 131st on the league’s all-time earnings list, according to Spotrac. More than 100 players have earned more than $100 million in salary during their careers.

WHY DID MICHAEL JORDAN RETIRE IN 1993?

Shortly after Jordan’s retirement, NBA salaries exploded in value after a number of lucrative media rights deals. The NBA’s salary cap is determined by “basketball-related income,” or revenue from sources such as media rights and corporate sponsorships.

WHAT IS NIKE'S JORDAN BRAND WORTH TO THE SPORTSWEAR COMPANY?

Jordan’s longtime Bulls teammate, Scottie Pippen, concluded his career with roughly $110 million in salary, despite being notoriously underpaid throughout most of his time in the NBA. Pippen’s frustration with his contract was chronicled in ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” a 10-part documentary series about Jordan’s career and the 1990s Bulls dynasty.

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While Jordan’s on-court earnings trailed behind those of many current-day NBA players, he built an unprecedented business empire off the court. The NBA legend has earned hundreds of millions of dollars through his long-term endorsement partnership with Nike. As of 2020, the Jordan Brand was a multi-billion-dollar segment of Nike’s overall business.

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