More so than any other sport, the NBA is a star-driven league. Even if a team wins a lot of games, fans won fill the seats and merchandise won’t fly off the shelves, without a star player. The NBA lives and dies by its star players, and to attract a star player you have to pony up the cash. During David Stern’s 30 years at the helm of the National Basketball Association, he has branded and marketed some of the game’s most legendary players – Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and many more. Turning athletes into massive international celebrities has been extremely beneficial for both the player’s and the league’s bank accounts. When a whole team becomes a celebrity, like the Showtime era Los Angeles Lakers, the money that brings into the NBA is simply staggering.

Over the past 30 years, the NBA’s revenues and franchise values have grown by 40% and the NBA’s top player salaries have gone from $1 million to $30 million. Off the court, the most elite athletes have become mind-bogglingly wealthier thanks to lucrative from companies like Nike, Adidas, Gatorade Under Armour and Reebok. Consider that in 1984, Michael Jordan’s first Nike shoe contract was worth $500,000 per year. At the time, Nike’s annual revenue was a “paltry” $920 million. In 2014, LeBron James will take home roughly $42 million from his endorsement deal with Nike alone. Today Nike is a $26 billion dollar company. So obviously the stakes are very high. Let’s take a look at the top 10 highest paid NBA players for 2014.