LeBron James and the Miami Heat might be down 3-1 to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, but the 29-year-old four-time MVP might have 30 million reasons to raise his spirits.
James reportedly netted an unconfirmed $30 million after Apple (AAPL) completed its purchase of global headphone-maker Beats for $3 billion last month.
James has been a spokesperson for Beats, created and managed by legendary hip-hop star Dr. Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine, since the company was founded in 2008.
Unlike a typical endorsement deal for cold hard cash in exchange for a few commercials and donning a product in public, James instead opted for a small stake in Beats and realized the hefty sum that nearly eclipses his NBA salaries from the last two seasons. James has made in excess of $36 million during his last two years in South Beach.
All told, James is the third highest earning athlete in the world according to Forbes. Over the last year he’s netted $72.3 million, with only $19.3 million coming from his NBA salary and $53 million via endorsement deals with Beats, Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and others.
Back in 2010, James famously teamed up with guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh to form the new Big Three in Miami. All three agreed to take less money so the Heat could afford their contracts under the NBA’s strict salary cap system.
James wasn’t exactly robbed for his services, signing a six-year $109.8 million contract, with an early-termination option he can exercise this summer to again test free agency.
But the Beats deal only further entrenches James’s ability to supplement his NBA contract and in turn take less money from the Heat so they can sign top flight free agents and still stay under the salary cap.
Enter New York Knick and future free agent Carmelo Anthony.
According to ESPN, Heat officials and players are reportedly discussing ways Anthony could sign with the club this summer. The scoring machine is expected to opt-out of his current deal with the Knicks and entertain offers from other teams, as New York appears highly unlikely to contend for a championship next season or even two years down the road.
In theory, James, Wade and Bosh could opt-out this summer and sign even more cap-friendly deals with the Heat, allowing them to bring on Anthony and create the Big Four. Though Anthony would also have to take a pay cut, with New York allowed to offer him an extra year and $30 million-more than any other team in the league.
Should Anthony sign, the Heat would roll out three starters from the 2014 Eastern Conference All-Star team in Anthony, James and Wade.
And maybe they wouldn’t fall behind 3-1 in a playoff series. Ever again.