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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.