Kobe Bryant is the fourth-highest paid athlete in the U.S. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Kobe Bryant is Los Angeles' highest-paid athlete, followed by a couple of Dodgers who fans might say haven't earned their money, in a list compiled annually by Sports Illustrated.
Bryant was fourth nationally in rankings that combine estimates for salary, winnings and endorsements this year. Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather was the runaway leader at $90 million, followed by NBA most valuable player LeBron James at $56 million and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees at $47.8 million.
Bryant came in at $46.85 million — $27.85 million in salary and $19 million in endorsements. Even though he missed the playoffs because of a torn Achilles' tendon, it probably would be hard to find many Lakers fans who think that was wasted money.
But then comes the guy with the second-biggest income in town: Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, who ranks No. 10 nationally with $29.02 million in expected earnings. He's drawing nearly all of that from the Dodgers, yet made only his third start of the season — his first since suffering a broken collarbone in a fight with San Diego's Carlos Quentin on April 11 — Wednesday night.
Matt Kemp, on the other hand, has been in the Dodgers' lineup all season, though his statistics — one home run, 15 runs batted in — might suggest otherwise. (Unless you count his 38 strikeouts.) He's pulling in an estimated $22.4 million, third-highest in L.A. and 30th nationwide.
Lakers center Dwight Howard, at $21.93 million, and Clippers point guard Chris Paul, $21.58 million, are the next two L.A.-based players on the list, at Nos. 31 and 33 — and they'll have plenty of time to spend that money after their teams' early exits from the playoffs.
Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez, No. 34 at $21.35 million, and Carl Crawford, No. 42 at $20.075 million, could be on their way to proving their net worth. They came in slightly in front of the Lakers' Pau Gasol, No. 37 at $21.1 million, and Angels slugger Albert Pujols, No. 46 at $19 million.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez all made the magazine's "futures" list — athletes who are expected to crack the top 50 in the near future.
Former Galaxy star David Beckham tops the magazine's international list at $48.3 million, almost entirely from endorsements.