The NBA is recognized as being one of the best-paying professional sports league, due to the relatively small number of players contracted in the league as well as the league’s growing global popularity, but many could not have foreseen the extraordinary amounts of money that players would pull in. At one point, $100 million could be the sum of a superstar’s earnings over the entirety of their career, but that quickly changed that players would get that much in just one contract!
Who was the first 100 million-dollar NBA player? Juwan Howard was the first player in NBA history to sign an NBA contract exceeding $100 million. Ahead of the 1996-97 NBA season, Howard re-signed with the Washington Bullets on a 7-year, $105,375,000 contract. Outbidding the Miami Heat in a battle for Howard’s services. Howard’s total career earnings from 8 teams over 19 seasons were $149,014,155.
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What was Juwan Howard’s career like?
It would be unfair to jump to Juwan Howard’s NBA career without covering his high-profile time in college basketball. Juwan Howard joined the Michigan Wolverines in 1991, becoming one of the players in the legendary “Fab Five” alongside Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson: all of the Fab Five except for King went on to have NBA careers. Howard, alongside the Fab Five and the rest of the highly-ranked Michigan program, went to two consecutive NCAA Championship appearances, but unfortunately lost both (the second loss is when the infamous Chris Webber timeout incident happened). Of course, the Fab Five and the University of Michigan became broiled in legal issues and scandals, but Howard was seemingly uninvolved (or at least not implicated).
After impressing during his 3 years in the NBA, Howard was selected by the Washington Bullets (now known as the Washington Wizards) with the 5th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. Reunited with another Fab Five member in Chris Webber, Howard impressed in his first year despite a late start and a bench role in the beginning of the season. He elevated his game even further in the 1995-96 season, posting arguably his best statistical season, even though the remaining core of the team missed significant time to injuries that season. Howard was named to his only All-Star Game that season.
After becoming a free agent, a battle to sign Howard after having a great sophomore season ensued between the Bullets and the Miami Heat. While the Heat had just about signed Howard, the league rejected the contract, citing improper salary cap calculations by the Heat, allowing the Wizards to swoop in and offer Howard the first $100 million contract in NBA history. However, Howard never quite managed to continue on the upward trajectory many thought he was on going into his third season. While he was still a good player for the Wizards, he did not improve, and his very large salary meant that people had higher expectations that his performances did not meet.
After 6.5 years in Washington, Howard was traded to the Dallas Mavericks midway through the 2000-01 season. Howard had short, consecutive stints with the Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets, and the Orlando Magic between 2001 and 2004. No longer the focal point of teams, Howard was still a double-digit scorer and a double-double threat on the teams he played. After being traded to the Houston Rockets for the 2004-2005 season, Howard began to further embrace the veteran role while his on-court production slightly fell although he remained a starter.
For the 2007-08 season, Howard began a bit of a reunion tour, first going back to the Mavericks and then the Denver Nuggets. He had a limited role off the bench for both teams as well as in short periods with the Charlotte Bobcats and the Portland Trailblazers. Howard capped off his career with a bit of stability and success, joining the Miami Heat (the very team that battled for his services many years ago) from 2010 to 2013, playing alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh to win 2 consecutive NBA championships. Howard retired in 2013 and joined the Miami Heat coaching staff for a few years, and has gone full circle as he is the current coach of the Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball team.
List of NBA Players with $100 Million Contracts – All time
Juan Howard was the first $100 million NBA player, but he certainly wasn’t the last. Up until the end of the 2023 NBA Season there have been 109 NBA Contracts signed worth more than $100,000,000. Below is a complete list.
|Rank||Player||Age at first year||Years of Contract||Contract Total||Yearly Average|
|21||Michael Porter Jr.||23||5||$179,299,750||$35,859,950|
|94||Otto Porter Jr.||24||4||$106,524,975||$26,631,244|
|98||Jaren Jackson Jr.||22||4||$104,720,000||$26,180,000|
These 109 $100 Million contracts have been given to just 84 players. Meaning some NBA players are lucky enough to have signed multiple 100 million dollar contracts in their careers!
Below we have the complete list of players with multiple £100 mill NBA contracts, including, the only player to ever have signed 3 100 million dollar NBA contracts!
|Player||$100 Million Contracts|
Nicola Jokic is the only NBA player (so far) to have signed THREE NBA contracts worth more than $100 Million. He is also the current holder of the largest ever NBA contract. As he’s on the cusp of winning his 3rd NBA MVP, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Which NBA player has the largest contract in NBA history?
The NBA player who has the largest contract in NBA history is Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, who is currently on a 5-year contract worth about $272 million. Jokic’s contract, which was signed prior to the 2022-23 season, is due to him signing a supermax extension, and is worth roughly $20 million more than the 2nd-biggest NBA contract in history (Bradley Beal’s 5 year contract worth around $251 million).
When thinking of the first ever $100 million-dollar player in NBA history, Juwan Howard’s name is not one that many would expect. He had a relatively quiet NBA career, especially as a “Fab Five” member, but he was a more than serviceable player throughout his career. While the salary amount in hindsight seems quite high, perspective matters: he was the leading scorer on the Bullets and had made the All-Star Game in the previous year, and this was just his second season! The Miami Heat were also offering him a big contract, and if the Wizards wanted to keep him they had to beat the price the Heat had set. The Bullets/Wizards likely saw a young, potential star player they could build the franchise around, and gave him a big chunk of money. Of course, like many things in the NBA, it didn’t go as planned, and Howard bounced around the league for the rest of his career. NBA fans know that contracts can turn out terribly all the time, and Wizards fans are potentially seeing a Howard-like situation unfold before their very eyes right now as their current star player Bradley Beal is signed to a highly-controversial, $250+ million contract, the 2nd-largest in NBA history.