NBA AM: Curry’s Earning Potential Grows


We hear a lot about what a celebrity endorsement darling Stephen Curry has become over the course of the last two NBA seasons, and it’s understandable considering how much he’s completely transformed the game of basketball with his boyish good looks and deep, deep shots from all over the floor.

That, predictably, has led to an increase in endorsement dollars for the two-time MVP, who as of earlier this year is officially the highest-rated active athlete according to Repucom’s Celebrity DBI metric, which ranks over 3,800 celebrities across a number of categories to nail down how positively consumers view them. Among all celebrities, not just athletes, Curry ranks ninth, ahead of pop culture juggernauts like Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift.

In terms of Q Scores, another popularity metric that ranks celebrities and athletes, Curry is off the charts with a Q Score of 34, way ahead of runner-up LeBron James, who currently sits at a 28 Q Score. A year ago, Curry boasted a 26 Q Score, so even though James may have more widespread name recognition, he’s nowhere near as beloved. The way things are trending, it looks like it may stay that way for quite some time.

As a result of that skyrocketing popularity, Curry has become one of the league’s wealthiest in terms of endorsements, as he hauled in approximately $8 million in endorsements in 2014.

In 2015, that total jumped to $12 million thanks to deals with Degree, JBL, Brita, Kaiser Permanente, Fanatics, State Farm and, of course, Under Armour. According to Forbes, that would make him sixth among active NBA players in terms of endorsements, tied with Dwyane Wade, but since his deal with Under Armour includes a stake in the company and a cut of whatever the Curry brand helps sell, that number could shoot skyward just based on shoe sales.

Furthermore, since those endorsement valuations were published by Forbes back in February, Curry has added JP Morgan Chase to his portfolio of endorsements, which should be enough to push him past some of the other players immediately ahead of him on the list of top off-court earners. Wade ($12 million), Derrick Rose ($14 million) and James Harden ($17 million) almost certainly will fall behind Curry when the next list comes out in early in 2017.

Last year’s top three off-court earners were Kobe Bryant ($25 million), Kevin Durant ($36 million) and LeBron James ($48 million), and with Bryant retiring that means Curry could easily jump into the top three. He still has quite a way to go to catch up to Durant and James, but a superstar as talented and charismatic as Curry almost certainly will find his way to the top of NBA endorsement royalty in no time.

All of this is moot, however, considering Michael Jordan is still the king of endorsements. He currently rakes in over $100 million a year thanks in large part to his role with Nike. Whatever money Curry, Durant and James make, they’re still chasing the man who revolutionized the endorsement game for athletes in the first place.

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About Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.