How NBA salary sizes up in different cities

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Steve Chiotakis: We're now in the final days of the NBA's "free agency period." Teams are battling over the hottest crop of players in years. The biggest prize is Cleveland's LeBron James. The New York Knicks told LeBron coming to the Big Apple could mean a billion-dollar career. Marketplace's Jeff Horwich looks at how where you play shapes lifetime pay.


Jeff Horwich: Let's be clear: Superstars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be super rich wherever they play. We're talking the difference between $600 million and $1 billion. That'd be the lifetime bottom line for LeBron between Miami and New York, according to computer modeling commissioned by the Knicks. Cleveland and Chicago fell in between.

Kevin McIntyre of the Leverage sports agency says it's largely about a city's potential for sponsorships and business deals.

Kevin McIntyre: You know, the people you meet socially. He starts to get ingrained into other aspects, other areas of business outside basketball.

Forbes magazine's Steven Bertoni got ahold of The Knicks' detailed PowerPoint for LeBron. Bertoni says the size and personal wealth of the fan base factor in. So does desperation.

Steven Bertoni: Their idea is the longer a city has gone without a championship, the more it is worth to that player because he would be, you know, the savior.

One thing not in the PowerPoint: the hometown weather. Because for an extra $400 million, who really cares?

I'm Jeff Horwich for Marketplace.

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