Kobe Bryant may no longer be the best individual player in the NBA. By almost all measures, that title goes to LeBron James.
But the Mamba still has King James beat in one very important category: money.
According to a Forbes report, Bryant will be the NBA's top-grossing player in 2013. Bryant's salary ($27.8 million) combined with the income he makes from numerous endorsement deals (with Nike, Coca-Cola, Turkish Airlines, Mercedes-Benz and the memorabilia firm Panini) will result in a total paycheck of $59.8 million.
As Forbes notes, Bryant's salary is $7 million higher than any other player due to a confluence of longevity (he is in his 17th year) and loyalty (he has been on the Lakers his entire career). Bryant was also atop last year's list with $52 million in earnings.
James came in second place with total earnings of $57.6 million. The $2 million gap is impressive because James makes about $10 million less than Bryant in salary. So while Bryant has the league's highest salary, James rakes in the most from endorsements ($40 million this year thanks to deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Samsung, McDonald's, Audemars Piguet, Dunkin' Donuts and State Farm).
Forbes' list includes some of the usual suspects -- Dwyane Wade (4), Carmelo Anthony (6), Dwight Howard (8) -- but there were also a few surprises. Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose rocketed up to third on the list thanks to a new salaray kicking in ($16 million this year) and a "lifetime" endorsement deal with Adidas worth a ridiculous $185 million over 13 years. Rose wasn't even in the top 10 of last year's list.
Pau Gasol, not really a superstar or one of the league's more marketable players, came in 10th with total earnings of $21.5 million. Most of that will come from Gasol's $18.1 million salary.
(H/T to Yardbarker)