LeBron James officially the richest and most popular basketball player this year

Lebron James - Laughing

LeBron James is officially the richest and most popular basketball player this year

According to Forbes’ yearly report on the world’s richest athletes, LeBron James is not only the richest player in the NBA - despite compromising his salary to play with Dwyane Wade; he is also the most popular NBA athlete.

He came in at third overall behind boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. LeBron’s $72.3M in earnings overtook Kobe Bryant even though Kobe signed a 2 year $48.5M contract extension last November. He landed in fifth place behind Lionel Messi, earning $61.5M.

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were the only NBA players in the top 10.

LeBron’s earnings received a boost with Apple’s purchase of Beats.

He was a minority shareholder in the audio business and made over $30 million dollars through the sale, fuelling speculation that he would be willing to sacrifice NBA salary yet again in order to team up with another superstar, just as he took a pay cut to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami in 2010.

His wallet was also padded by partnerships with Nike, McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Powerade.

LeBron, in addition was revealed as the most popular NBA athlete this past year, based on figures from social media. Forbes based their assertions on numbers of Facebook page likes and Twitter followers.

LeBron James is fourth among all athletes behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar. He has 32 million combined social media followers.

Evidently we have come a long way from the infamous Decision and the derision LeBron suffered as a result. While it is not totally forgotten it has faded into near irrelevance.