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LeBron vs. Jordan: Is the King aiming to eclipse MJ's financial empire with his latest Lakers deal?

LeBron James is set to make a grand return to Los Angeles. While it’s not yet set in stone, the buzz is strong: LeBron will re-sign with the Lakers under a lucrative new contract rumored at $104 million over two years. This strategic move, set against the backdrop of the Lakers’ recent decisions—including drafting his son Bronny and appointing JJ Redick as head coach—hints at LeBron’s larger game plan.

But why only two and not three? Does that mean he has set a timeline for his retirement? Or does he have something else in mind? A lot of questions remain unanswered, so unfolding things step by step would be the way to go. Out of all the theories about LeBron penning a 2-year deal, one take stands out significantly over the others.

It was provided by Chris Broussard on “First Things First” on FS1. “Now I’m told smartly, because one thing about LeBron and his representation, they’ve always been ahead of the curve,” Broussard said on the show. “Like even when he signed his shorter deal with Cleveland, his first max deal, he did it so he’d have options to leave earlier if they couldn’t get over the hump.” That’s what he did. In 2007, LeBron signed a 4-year $60.3 million contract with the Cavs and was traded going into the final year of the contract.

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Poll of the day

Do you think LeBron James will surpass Michael Jordan's $3 billion fortune?

Absolutely

No way

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Only time will tell

Broussard continued, “They’re looking at this like the TV money is about to kick in in a couple of seasons. And LeBron will be free. He keeps his options open.” And this is where things get interesting. According to reports, the NBA’s new deal with NBC, ESPN, and Amazon will be an 11-year, $76 billion agreement. This groundbreaking number not only will fill the coffers of the league, but it will also make the players’ pockets the deepest it has ever been. This deal will kick in from the 2025/26 season, just when LeBron will be in his second year of the new contract. His second year included a player option, and that means he can again hit the free agency and let the best bid win.

“So after this up, I just assumed that we were getting two more LeBron James seasons max. I don’t know. I’m told it’s not totally, cause who knows how these things are gonna play out. But I don’t think he’s only playing two more years,” concluded the Fox analyst. So if LeBron James will be playing more than two seasons, the TV deal will also benefit him. How much exactly? And will that be enough to displace Michael Jordan from the top of the sporting food chain when it comes to being the highest-paid athlete of all time?

How can LeBron James eclipse Michael Jordan’s fortune?

To solidify his status as the GOAT over Michael Jordan is already a tough ask for LeBron. But even if he fails to do that by the time of retirement, he’ll have another opportunity to top His Airness. And the mammoth TV deal will lend a helping hand. Now the obvious question is how does the TV money help LeBron? To understand that, let’s recall the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed by the NBAPA.

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According to the contract, once the profits from the TV deal come into play, players will get 50% of it. So, for instance, Jayson Tatum signed a $313.9 million contract until the 2029/30 season. Adding up 50% to his each year’s gain would give him a boost of $158.35 million throughout his contract. So by the end of his contract, his final amount will be $472.25 million. This format of calculation will be applicable for each player and the team’s salary caps will receive and 10% increment every season. This will apply to LeBron as well, according to his contractual figures from the 2025/26 season onward.

No, this will not get him anywhere near Jordan. What could, be his long-held desire of owning an NBA team? Jordan sold the Hornets in 2023 for $3 billion after buying it for only $275 million in 2010. Adam Silver has hinted at a potential expansion in the future and Las Vegas is one of the speculated targets, a long-term target of LBJ. Though LeBron will not be able to own it immediately even if he wants, by the time the expansion materializes, he might be close to retirement. After buying a franchise, pulling out a Jordan move to sell it off in the future could give LeBron the launching pad to get closer to MJ.

Factors like his lifetime deal with Nike, his 2% ownership of Liverpool FC, his own production company, the SpringHill Company, the ownership of Lobos, and other business ventures would do their part in boosting his finances. With the bonuses from the TV deal, the battle of GOATs on the highest-paid athletes of all time list is sure to be as legendary as the one we’ve witnessed for years. After all, “LeBron and his representation, they’ve always been ahead of the curve,” just like Broussard said.

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Stay tuned for more such updates, and to follow what brand maker, Leonard Armato, had to say about the deadly duo, Shaq and Kobe, check out this video