Whether you love it or hate it, modern professional sports are a big-money business. If you’re an elite athlete, you’re going to take home millions of dollars each year. Take, for example, Anthony Davis. When the talented big man entered the league, he earned more than $5 million during his rookie season; during the 2019-20 campaign, the Lakers paid him just over $27 million.
Although the forward has earned more than $121 million in salary during his NBA career, Anthony Davis isn’t worried about money. Instead, he’s focused on building a legacy that will outlast any monetary rewards.
Anthony Davis’ impressive basketball career
Playing alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis is never going to get top billing on the Lakers. Despite that reality, the big man has established himself as a legitimate talent.
Davis first cut his teeth on the AAU circuit and, after high school graduation, headed to the University of Kentucky. During his one season on John Calipari’s Wildcats squad, he averaged 17.7 points, 13 rebounds, and 5.8 blocks per game; the big man also claimed most of the National Player of the Year awards and won an NCAA championship before leaving campus.
On the back of that collegiate success, Davis entered into the 2011 NBA draft; the New Orleans Hornets promptly snapped him up with the first-overall pick. While the big man battled through some early injury issues, he quickly developed into a star. His time in Louisiana, however, wouldn’t end happily.
Although Davis helped the Pelicans make the playoffs, he wanted more than an occasional shot at glory. He requested a trade in January 2019; during the offseason, he got his wish and joined the LA Lakers.
Making more than $121 million playing basketball
When you’re the first-overall pick in a professional sports league’s entry draft, it’s safe to assume a massive payday isn’t far behind. During his time in the NBA, Anthony Davis has reaped the financial rewards of his star status.
According to Spotrac’s financial data, Davis signed a four-year, $23 million contract with the then-Hornets when he entered the league. In July 2015, he signed a five-year contract extension worth a total of $127 million; the forward is currently playing out the remainder of the deal with the Lakers.
To date, Anthony Davis has earned more than $121 million in salary during his time in the NBA. No matter what happens in the future—he can opt-out of the final year of his current deal, should he want to hit free agency—that number will only continue to rise. Between those earnings and his various endorsement deals, Davis is already worth an estimated $30 million; that’s not bad for a 27-year-old with plenty more basketball ahead of him.
Anthony Davis is worried about his legacy, not his bank account
By the time his NBA career is over, Anthony Davis will have earned hundreds of millions of dollars. While that’s all well and good, the big man has another priority: his legacy.
“Money comes and goes; your legacy is forever,” Davis told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times in July 2019. “I think how you establish yourself in the NBA and what you do on and off the court is something that people will remember forever. Obviously, our money is public. and people know what we make, but at the end of the day. no one cares about how much money you make.”
While 2020 hasn’t gone the way anyone planned, things have worked out pretty well for Davis. Playing alongside LeBron James, the big man continued to post impressive numbers; although their postseason performances haven’t been the most inspiring, the Lakers still have a shot of winning the championship.
Beyond that, though, Davis can shape his own destiny. Will he choose to remain in Hollywood and become a Lakers great? Is he planning a return to Chicago, hoping to become a hometown hero? No matter what he does, the big man knows that his choices, not his contracts, will define his career.
“Anthony Davis is not going to be a great basketball player because of the amount of money he makes, it’s going to be about what he achieved on the court and also off the court,” he continued. “That’s all part of my legacy, and I think that’s way more valuable than any monetary value.”