Stories of NBA Players

7 Inspiring Stories of NBA Players Turned Successful Entrepreneurs

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Many iconic sports figures have diversified into various industries, with a notable presence in business. As a powerhouse league, the NBA has seen many players successfully manage businesses, establishing themselves as prominent athlete-entrepreneurs.

Let’s know the stories of these basketball stars who have smoothly transitioned into business, demonstrating their adaptability and business acumen beyond the confines of the basketball court.

LeBron James

LeBron James, who’s consistently heavily favored by NBA odds, is the league’s highest-paid player and a wise investor. His financial power extends from lucrative endorsement deals to ownership stakes in the Boston Red Sox’s sports group and a substantial real estate portfolio. Forbes crowned LeBron as the league’s first active billionaire, with a net worth of $1 billion.

As the highest-earning NBA player, LeBron has amassed over $431 million from his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Lakers. His strategic investments and endorsements contributed over $900 million in 2022 alone. Notable among his investments are his early involvement and significant earnings from Beats by Dre’s acquisition by Apple, along with his thriving Blaze Pizza franchise ownership.

Magic Johnson

Since retiring from the NBA in 1996, the legendary Lakers player has curated a sports portfolio valued at over $1 billion. Initially focusing on investments close to his basketball roots, Magic recently expanded his reach to the East Coast, solidifying his mogul status.

His latest achievement includes gaining approval for the purchase of the Washington Commanders, marking a significant milestone in his sports investment journey. While renowned for his sports-related investments, Magic’s diversified portfolio under Magic Johnson Enterprises encompasses restaurant franchises, movie theaters, and real estate ventures. Johnson’s strategic investments and business acumen continue to set the standard for athletes transitioning into successful entrepreneurs.

Shaquille O’Neal

O’Neal’s post-retirement income is estimated to exceed $400 million, surpassing his on-court earnings. In the reality series Shaq Life, he revealed ownership of around 50 brands, a figure likely to have grown since then.

His investments span a wide variety, from owning multiple Five Guys Burgers franchises, 24-Hour Fitness locations, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels outlets, and stakes in tech giants like Apple and Google. Additionally, Shaquille O’Neal’s involvement in Papa John’s, Krispy Kreme, and various other ventures cements his position as a multifaceted investor with a keen eye for diverse opportunities.

Kobe Bryant

In addition to these living legends, even in his passing, Kobe Bryant remains an influential figure in business and investment. In 2013, he co-founded the venture capital firm Bryant Stibel alongside Jeff Stibel, the founder of Described as more than a founding partner, Bryant was hailed as a creative visionary who swiftly transitioned into a seasoned entrepreneur and investor, showcasing his multifaceted talents beyond the basketball court.

Bryant also emulated the success of icons like Magic Johnson, who established Magic Johnson Enterprises back in 1987. Bryant Stibel has seen remarkable successes with exits from companies like Dell and Alibaba while also holding stakes in renowned entities such as Epic Games, Klarna, and The Honest Company, underscoring Kobe’s strategic power in investing.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant’s entrepreneurial success extends far beyond the basketball court. While his endorsement deals with Nike, Google, and Alaska Airlines are noteworthy, his ventures outside endorsements truly set him apart.

Teaming up with his business partner, Rich Kleiman, Durant co-owns Thirty Five Ventures, a venture capital firm with remarkable success. Their diverse portfolio includes investments in Lime Scooters, The Players’ Tribune, Robinhood, Postmates, and the recent standout Coinbase.

Chris Paul

At 39, Chris Paul is not just a basketball star but also a wise entrepreneur with a diverse business portfolio and ambitious aspirations. In a conversation with Forbes at Nasdaq MarketSite, Paul revealed his desire to own a WNBA team, launch a startup soccer league, and explore opportunities in the athlete media space.

Driven by a deeply personal tribute, Paul aims to honor his grandfather’s legacy by owning 61 shares of Chevron stock—one for each year of his grandfather’s life. With earnings surpassing $350 million from his NBA career and lucrative endorsement deals with iconic brands like Michael Jordan’s and State Farm, Paul’s financial understanding is commendable.

Michael Jordan

In June 2010, Forbes ranked Michael Jordan as the 20th-most-powerful celebrity globally, earning $55 million from June 2009 to June 2010. His iconic Jordan Brand, a part of Nike, rakes in an impressive $1 billion sales. In 2014, Jordan became the first NBA player to achieve billionaire status, primarily through increasing his stake in the Charlotte Hornets.

Jordan was honored as the Charlotte Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year in 2014. His power in managing businesses extends to sports ownership as he became a part owner of the Miami Marlins in 2017. Forbes recognized him as the athlete with the highest career earnings in 2017, with an estimated income of $110 million in 2015, sourced from Jordan Brand and endorsements.

As of 2024, Forbes estimates Jordan’s net worth at $3.2 billion, ranking him among the top five richest African Americans. Beyond sports and fashion, Jordan co-owns an automotive group, with interests in dealerships in North Carolina and Maryland. He has also dabbled in the restaurant industry and is a majority investor in Florida’s prestigious Grove XXIII golf course.


These NBA stars’ entrepreneurial ventures and business acumen are shining examples of success beyond their respective sports careers. Their diverse investments, strategic partnerships, and innovative approaches inspire aspiring entrepreneurs to think big, take calculated risks, and pursue excellence in all their endeavors.

Also Read: Team Spirit Couture: How NBA Team Jerseys Became Wardrobe Staples



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