GOAT talk usually happens when one legend or icon speaks about someone of similar status doing impactful work in their respective industry.
And when it comes to basketball, several names pop up in the GOAT conversation. The more recurring ones are Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant. However, many basketball enthusiasts would argue that this list is incomplete.
If the talk is about holistic impact, a few more names must hit the GOAT rankings — from the current and more recent stars like Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo to OGs like Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, and Isiah Thomson.
And in an interview Thomas had on the Pivot Podcast, he shared his thoughts on how players like James are changing the business of the game.
With the help of social media, there is no doubt that NBA players today have a more significant influence on culture, but it’s not just their cultural impact that’s making waves.
Today’s players are leveraging their influence to capitalize on business moves.
Whether it’s shoe deals or brand deals, many players are finding economic success off the court, and NBA legend Isiah Thomas agrees.
“It’s only two players that’s ever done this — what Michael Jordan has done and now what Lebron James has done. The monies that two guys have made for the NBA and what Lebron James has done and the money he’s made for the NBA, I don’t know if it’ll ever be done again,” Thomas stated.
According to Spotrac, sports players are making more than athletes did in the 1980s and 1990s. For additional context, here is a comparative breakdown of Jordan and James.
- LeBron James – Four Years/$153,312,846
- Michael Jordan – One Year/ $33,140,000 (1997)
What’s more, as AfroTech previously reported, James joined Jordan in the athletic billionaires club.
Nevertheless, the former Detroit Pistons superstar gave credit to more players who are also making an impact in the league on the business side, generating large sums for the NBA.
According to CNBC, the NBA was projected to make $10 billion in revenue during the 2021-2022 season, a figure Thomas believes is greatly influenced by today’s current superstars.
“This group, when it’s all said and done — they don’t want to give them their credit now. But when LeBron James and Kevin Durant and all of them walk out the door, you look back at what they just did compared to what my generation did. Man, these guys have taken it to a place that none of us could ever imagine, and they ain’t getting no credit for it,” Thomas said.