CHART OF THE DAY: Baseball Salaries Can't Match The Endorsement Power Of Basketball

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Yesterday we looked at the career salary earnings of Alex Rodriguez and LeBron James, the top players in their respective sports. What we saw was that LeBron’s career earnings are severely limited by the NBA’s salary cap. And without a major overhaul in the next CBA, he will never match A-Rod in career paychecks.

In fact, the salary cap will cost LeBron as much as $28 million this season alone.

But where LeBron loses out in salary, he more than makes up for with the endorsement power of the NBA. According to Sports Illustrated, James had $30 million in endorsements in 2010. That easily outpaced Rodriguez’ $4 million. If we consider salary and endorsements combined, James made $45.8 million in 2010, while Rodriguez earned $37.0 million.

In total earnings, James will have already raked in $283 million by the end of the 2010-11 NBA season. At the same point in his career (first 8 seasons), A-Rod had earned a measly $51 million. Of course, in baseball, earning power doesn’t begin until free agency (year 7), but Rodriguez has never earned more than $6 million in endorsements.

If we project both players (below) assuming their current annual endorsements remain constant, we see that both players will have exceeded $500 million in total earnings by the end of their current contracts. But while it took Rodriguez 24 years of playing baseball to reach a half-billion in earnings, LeBron will only be 31.

LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez Earnings

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