Despite being one of the top 1% income earners in the world, one could make a case that LeBron James could actually be the most underpaid athlete in professional sports. James earns $16 million per season, the 13th biggest salary in the NBA. Which means that there are 12 players making more money than LeBron James. The infographic below summarizes James’ value, and what he has meant to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.
In every statistical category the chart covers (franchise value, TV ratings, nationally televised games, attendance, and ticket sales), the Cavs have fallen while the Heat have risen. After James left Cleveland, the franchise’s value dropped over $100 million, while Miami’s rose by nearly $60 million. Miami’s TV ratings doubled from a 2.5 to a 5.0, while Cleveland’s plummeted from a 7.7 to a 3.9.
Two of the most eye popping stats were the number of nationally televised games and ticket sales. In 2010, the Cavs appeared on national TV 25 times. After James left, that number dropped to three. The average price of a ticket to a Cavs game dropped $200 to just $50, while Miami’s rose from $93 to $311.
The chart uses a Wages of Wins formula to calculate James’ value. For the 2011-2012 season, the NBA paid players $1.9 billion to produce 990 wins. Each win is worth $1.95 million. James created 15.88 wins according to the formula, which gives him a value of $30.9 million. James’ salary is $16,022,500 per year. Therefore, using this formula, James is underpaid by $14,883, 496.
LeBron James Is Underpaid – An infographic by the team at CableTV.com