None of the NBA players have earned many of their contracts playing in the league. Believe it or not, “His Airness” earned less than $10 million during its 3-year championship successes from 1991 to 1993 before taking a break from basketball. However, NBA legend Michael Jordan still has the biggest contract in the league, earning $33.1 million in his final season with the Chicago Bulls (1997-98). That amount would be $55.2 million in the modern game. The highest-paid NBA players of the season recently eclipsed $40 million. Larry Bird was the first player to earn $5 million or more with a salary of $7,070,000 in the 1991-92 season. Magic Johnson was the first player to earn $10 million or more in the `94-95 season with a salary of $14,660,000. Patrick Ewing was the first player to earn $15 million or more in the 95-96 season with a salary of $18,724,000. Michael Jordan was the first NBA player to sign a contract worth more than $20 million, and in fact, he also surpassed $30 million in one season (1996-97); It was a record he had held for 15 years. During the 1997-98 season, Jordan earned $33,140,000, which is still the most earned by an NBA player on a 1-year contract. Jordan also holds the record for the second largest 1-year contract with $30,140,000 in the 1996-97 season. Kobe Bryant was only the second player to reach this milestone at the start of the 2013-14 season.  LeBron James finished third in the 2016-17 season.
Stephen Curry was the first player to eclipse $40 million per year when he signed a record-breaking 5-year contract worth $201 million in 2017, starting with $34,682,550 in the 2017-18 season and ending with the biggest win of the 2021-22 season with a record payout of $45,780,966. This was not rewarded for the MVP of the 4x Finals. The Bulls gave him a $30.1 million 1-year contract extension, which at the time was literally higher than the total salaries of the rest of the league`s teams. In total, Jordan received $93.7 million from NBA contracts alone. That number doesn`t come close to the top 100 highest-paid players of all time, with GOAT nearly $30 million behind No. 100 Marvin Williams. Jordan`s contract would have been worth $56.1 million. Given that the backend of Giannis and Steph Curry`s contract is roughly equivalent to that kind of money, you`d think it was a solid deal with the Bulls. All three players are faces from their respective eras. Overall, Jordan could have played in today`s league and would have been worth the money. According to Forbes, Jordan has earned about $1.7 billion (before taxes) over the past 40 years from sponsors like Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald`s, Wheaties and Chevrolet.
Nike was his biggest backer thanks to the popular Jordan brand, with MJ earning around $130 million in 2019 for his involvement with the company. An exception is required to sign a player for a contract that would exceed the soft cap salary cap. The Larry Bird exception, better known as Bird Rights, allows teams to re-sign a current player only if they have played for that particular team for at least three years.  Another exception, known as the mid-level exception, allows teams above the salary cap to sign one or more players as long as they do not exceed the total amount of the NBA`s average salary.  Second, the biannual two-year team exception can be used to sign one or more free agents for up to two years at an amount determined by the NBA.  Finally, the rookie player exception allows any NBA team to sign its first round draft for a contract based on a scale previously set by the NBA. Another option for teams would be to send players into a league contract with a minimum salary for up to two years. As before, teams were allowed to go over the salary cap to sign their own players.
Unlike before, there was no maximum contract or luxury tax in the collective agreement. We see terrible contracts all the time, but that particular salary must have hurt, especially when O`Neal was a major magic piece. Grant was a prolific player when the team reached an NBA Finals in 1995, but this season wasn`t one of his best when you hit the dollar amount. It`s no surprise that New York finds a way to play Ewing like a star. Ewing was one of two players who earned more than $20 million this season. In today`s league, that contract would have been for about $34.7 million. The Knicks finished 43-39 and finished second in the second round of the playoffs. Part of that probably comes from the fact that Ewing only played 26 games in the regular season.