Things have gone from bad to worse for LeBron James this season. His plans to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the postseason for the first time since 2013 have slowly unraveled, with the Lakers falling out of a playoff spot in January and then dropping below a .500 record last month. Now the team appears to have finally thrown in the towel, reportedly putting James on a minutes restriction for the stretch run. It will be the first time he's missed the playoffs since 2006.
And yet off the court James couldn't be doing much better: This year James is making $89 million. That total is comprises $36 million in salary and a whopping $53 million in endorsement income from the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola and Beats By Dre. It's the fifth straight year James has led the league in earnings.
That income, plus a bevy of powerful relationships throughout the sports world, have pushed James up to No. 3 on the Forbes SportsMoney Index, the definitive ranking of the sports business world's most influential teams, athletes, brands and agencies. Only Nike and Pepsi now stand between James and the No. 1 spot.
The Lakers are similarly thriving in spite of poor on-court performances. Last month we valued the franchise at $3.7 billion, up 12% year-over-year and the second highest of any NBA team, behind the New York Knicks ($4 billion). The team is up two spots in the SMI, now ranking seventh overall.
But neither the Knicks nor the Lakers are the highest-ranked NBA team. That title belongs to the Golden State Warriors, which have jumped Lionel Messi, CAA and Budweiser to land at fifth overall. This year we valued the franchise at $3.5 billion, the third highest among NBA teams and a 13% increase over last year. The Knicks rank well behind at No. 28 on the SMI.
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