As basketball continues to grow as a globalized sport, NBA players are raking in more endorsements and more opportunities than ever before. While NBA players get paid millions to play the game of basketball, some make most of their money off endorsements and business ventures/partnerships with companies. It is the only reason we see Kobe Bryant endorsing a Turkish airline, taking selfies around the world with soccer great Lionel Messi.
Off the court, being extremely marketable is important to your credentials – fan base, media, and basically seeing how you are as a person is all included. Through commercials and endorsements, the players are humanized, but also show just how cooler they are than the rest of us. The recipe is having charisma, fashion, and a smile.
Below are the 20 most marketable players in NBA history.
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20. Gary Payton
Notable Endorsements: Nike
One of the greatest point guards in NBA history, Gary Payton was one of the biggest trash-talkers in the game. He was known for his defense, earning the name “The Glove” but was also known for his personality off the court. Not afraid to talk trash and go against the best of best such as Michael Jordan, Payton was a fan favorite in Seattle and throughout the league. A Hall of Famer, Payton was in a vast amount of Nike commercials and movies such as White Men Can’t Jump and Eddie in the ’90s.
19. Blake Griffin
Notable Endorsements: Jordan Brand, Subway, AT&T, Panini, Gamefly and Kia Automobiles
Every time you turn on the TV now, it seems that there is a new Blake Griffin commercial. He is an endorsement machine, appearing in commercials for Jordan, Gamefly, Subway and Kia Automobiles in the past year. The past year he signed a deal with the Jordan Brand to become one of the elite faces with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. It’s not hard to see why Blake is one of the most favorable players to fans because of his vicious dunks but also his comical personality off the court. As he gets further into his NBA career, Blake will remain a favorite and become a commercial legend.
18. Jeremy Lin
Notable Endorsements: Nike, adidas, Volvo, and KFC
“Linsantity” was a true phenomenon in 2012. He only started 25 games for the New York Knicks and became an international superstar. As an Asian-American and undrafted player, Lin defied stereotypes and showed the world that he can be a good pro. In an interview with GQ in 2012, in which he was on the cover, he stated “If I can be honest, yes. It’s not even close to the only reason, but it was definitely part of the reason. There’s a lot of perceptions and stereotypes of Asian-Americans that are out there today, and the fact that I’m Asian-American makes it harder to believe, even crazier, more unexpected. I’m going to have to play well for a longer period of time for certain people to believe it, because I’m Asian. And that’s just the reality of it.” Lin’s success in the NBA has brought him huge endorsements in China and has opened the doors for many Asian-American basketball players. He recently finished his endorsement deal with Nike and went with rival adidas.
17. Jerry West
Notable Endorsements: The National Basketball Association
Jerry West is the only basketball player on the list that I could not find in a single commercial on the Internet. But when it comes to NBA marketing, only few can say they are the official logo for the NBA. When the NBA was battling the ABA for basketball supremacy in 1969, the NBA decided to create a logo that would pull in fans. There was no better option at the time then Jerry West. He was the poster boy of the NBA and was coming off a tremendous season. Even now, the logo generates the NBA billions of dollars off licensing and branding.