The salaries of professional athletes have skyrocketed during the past few decades, accompanying the significant increase in popularity of most spectator sports. The trend began back in the 1980s, started to pick up steam in the 1990s, and a number of top athletes in several sports are set to earn more than $20 million in salary and bonuses in 2013. Most of these athletes also earn millions more dollars with a variety of product endorsement deals.
Average NBA Salary
NBA players earn the most of all major American sports leagues. Part of this has to do with the exploding global popularity of NBA basketball, but the large salaries in basketball are mainly because the number of players on a team is much less than the number of players on a professional football, baseball or soccer team. The average NBA salary was $5.15 million in 2012, the median salary was around $2.5 million, and the lowest paid NBA players earned $473,604.
Average NFL Salary
NFL players are actually at the bottom of the heap pay-wise among major American sports, "Forbes" reports. NBA players earn the most; Major League Baseball players come in second; NHL players are third; and NFL players are at the back of the pack with an average salary of only $1.9 million in 2012. The median salary for an NFL player is $770,000, and the league minimum for non-rookies is $405,000 in 2013.
Highest-Paid NBA Players
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers was the highest paid player in the NBA in the 2012-2013 season, reports ESPN. taking home a cool $27,849,149. German-born Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks was the second highest-paid player at $20,907,128, and Amare Stoudemire of the New York Knicks rounded out the top three with a salary of $19,948,799.
Highest-Paid NFL Players
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the highest paid NFL player in 2012, with salary and bonuses of right at $43 million, according to "Forbes". Quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints came in second with salary and bonuses of $40 million, and long-time New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was third with salary and bonuses totaling $31.3 million in 2012.