A player on the championship Miami Heat team can expect to score a low six-figure bonus payout, a shiny new $30,000 ring, and bragging rights for a lifetime.

But that’s small change compared to the millions of dollars in endorsement deals, speaking engagements, appearance fees, memorabilia sales, reality show gigs and other marketing opportunities that this Finals triumph can unlock.

So which Heat players—and Spurs, if any—have the best shot at scoring big on Madison Avenue? Who gets the Wheaties box, trip to Disney World, milk mustache, talk show gigs, guest spot on Dancing With The Stars?  Here’s how this ad guy rates the commercial talent:


LeBron James.  Already the NBA’s most marketable player, King James’ second consecutive ring and Finals’ MVP award could add another $5-7M a year to his current $40M in yearly off-the-court income. Sports Illustrated just ranked him the world’s most influential active athlete.


And he’s not just a pitchman, he’s a businessman—with ownership stakes in the Liverpool soccer club, PureBrands, Cannondale bikes, and more. After last summer’s Olympic Gold in London, James has been busy building his global brand, especially in the booming Asian market, signing deals to pitch Dunkin’ Donuts and the NBA2K14 video game in China. Seen during Finals commercial breaks in ads for Beats by Dre headphones and 2K Sports’ NBA2K14 video game—his first game cover ever—James also scored congratulatory ads from Nike and Samsung, and could make a trip to Disney World, nab more work from current clients Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Samsung and State Farm, and earn heavy rotation on talk shows, award shows, and in social media.


The LeBron brand is global, his celebrity transcends his sport, and his appeal crosses all demographics. Except, perhaps, the Cleveland market. And at 28, he’s got plenty of big years—and ring opportunities—ahead. And though his marketing dance card is very full, there are still openings for automotive, financial institutions, men’s fashion and grooming products, Eau de LeBron cologne, King James’ Triple Double BBQ Sauce, Gentleman James bourbon, and more. LBJ has been taking himself very seriously these days; might be nice to see his sponsors inject a little more humor into his ads, as Sprint does with Kevin Durant, Kia does with Blake Griffin, and Nike did with The LeBrons. But if you want King James to pitch your product, it better be a multi-year deal for a global brand and/or an equity stake. And you better have at least seven figures to offer.




Dwyane Wade.  With three rings, two cute kids (co-stars in his Dove for Men campaign), and one hot girlfriend (actress Gabrielle Union), it’s no wonder D-Wade pulls in $12M a year in endorsement earnings. He’s a familiar name and face to even the most casual hoops fan, a style icon, and an engaging personality.

Dwyane Wade Dove Commercial

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