Here’s why NBA players make more money than MLB and NFL athletes — both on and off the court

Business

It seems like every year, pro athletes in the NFL, NBA and MLB are signing new record-breaking contracts every season. But not all players are landing headline-worthy deals, and there are pretty sizable gaps in average player compensation across the three leagues.  

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) kisses the trophy after the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, Game 6 at Oracle Arena.

Rick Madonik | Toronto Star | Getty Images

The NFL is one of the biggest and most profitable sports leagues in the United States, yet average player salaries are less than their peers in the MLB and NBA. There are three big reasons for the disparity in pay: league structure, salary caps and rules around “guaranteed money” for players.

NBA pros have it especially good. In addition to having a higher average salary per player, they also make more money off the court than athletes in the NFL and MLB. That’s partly because NBA players have a bigger fan base outside the US.

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