Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James was declared by Forbes as the highest-paid NBA player in 2021-22, and his numbers were not even close to other stars in the league.

According to Sports Illustrated, Forbes shared that LeBron James is set to decimate his own set record by earning around $111.2 million over a 12-month timeframe. The estimate made by Forbes represented more than a 15 percent increase from the year before.

LeBron James: 'The King' of NBA

Based on the Forbes' figure, LeBron James earned a professional $41.2 million salary, while he earned a number of off-the-court ventures. James' most notable contract was his Nike contract of $32 million per year.

The 36-year-old four-time league MVP also accumulated payments from his latest movie "Space Jam: A New Legacy."

He also got additional payments from a "skin" in the popular video game "Fortnite" and a recent investment and brand ambassador deal with home fitness company Tonal.

James' earnings would make him the 10th-active athlete ever to surpass $100 million in a year and join the elite company of athletes such as football player Lionel Messi, boxer Floyd Mayweather and tennis player Roger Federer.

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Top Five Highest-Paid NBA Player in 2021-22

Top NBA players were taking home more money than ever. The recent surge in NBA money could be linked to skyrocketing salary caps and luxury tax thresholds, plus the introduction of supermax extensions in 2017.

Ranking as a runner-up to The King on the Forbes list was Warriors superstar guard Steph Curry. His $92.8 million earnings were comprised of his NBA's highest salary and several off-the-court revenues.

Curry had a production company, sponsorship in Under Armour, and cryptocurrency endorsement deal, to name a few.

Next on the list was Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, who just came off from a contract extension. Durant ranked third on the list with a total of $87.9 million in earnings. Durant's firm, Thirty Five Ventures, and other investments in more than 80 companies made KD's earnings ballooned.

Fourth on the highest-paid NBA players list was the reigning Finals MVP, and the Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak was the only top-10 earner that was in his 20s with $80.3 million. Giannis is currently looking to defend the title in the upcoming season.

To cap off the top five list was the new teammate of LeBron James, Russell Westbrook. The triple-double machine landed in the fifth spot, just shy of $75 million. The 36-year-old California native is the newest member of the LA Lakers' big three known as "Lakers 360."

Westbrook teamed up with The King and Anthony Davis to get his first NBA title and ring.

LeBron James has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for more than a decade. Since 2004, he has landed a spot on the annual Forbes ranking every year.

The NBA star has collected pretax earnings of more than $1 billion in his entire professional career based on Forbes estimates. However, he's still short of achieving billionaire status because of the taxes and expenses. 

The King is currently on track to become only the second billionaire to emerge from professional basketball, chasing Michael Jordan's post-playing career achievement.

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Written by: Jess Smith

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