Lebron James

A look at the NBA's top earners

Data: Forbes; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Athletes are brands

Collage illustration of a historical image of Wheaties boxes on a pair of Jordans.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Today's athletes have more power than ever to build their own brands and significantly bolster their own earning potential.

What's happening: Social media has created new outlets for athletes to communicate directly with fans, take part in conversations around issues that matter to them, and attract endorsement money.