Widely considered to be the best basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan is the subject of the wildly popular ESPN docu-series The Last Dance. The series centers around footage taken from the 1997 to 1998 Chicago Bulls basketball season (and it appropriately has come out 23 years later, in honor of his number).
The Last Dance has won acclaim for those who lived through Michael's career prime, and it's introduced new generations of sports fans to the legend for the first time at length.
Michael's basketball career officially came to an end with his 2003 retirement from the Washington Wizards, but he's best known for the 13 years he spent playing for the Chicago Bulls. Alongside the likes of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Luc Longley, the team won the championship in the 1997 to 1998 season, when the docu-series first filmed. It would be the second three-peat championship winning streak that Michael would have.
Because he was regarded to be the best in the league while he was actively playing basketball, it's no surprise that Michael pulled in a big salary when he was on the Bulls.
What were Michael Jordan's career earnings when he played for the Chicago Bulls? Read on to find out how much the shooting guard made during his prime years, and how his earnings compared to teammate Scottie Pippen.
What were Michael Jordan's career earnings?
Nowadays, NBA players can earn upwards of $40 million per season, but things were certainly different when Michael came to fame in the '80s and '90s. When Michael was first drafted in 1984, he signed a five year guaranteed contract with the Bulls for $6 million. He also received a $1 million signing bonus. Back then, there was a signing cap for the entire team, which was $3.8 million.
The Bulls had never won a championship when Michael was drafted.
For each of his first three years in the league, the Bulls made it to the playoffs, but they never advanced far. When coach Phil Jackson was brought in for the 1989 to 1990 season, the tides began to change in favor of the Bulls. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals that year.
The team won their first three-peat beginning in the 1990 season. He made $2.5 million for that season, $3.25 million for the 1991 season, and $4 million for the 1992 season.
After that, Michael made the shocking decision to retire and sign a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. During that year, he made around $4 million from the continuation of his contract with the Bulls.
While he was playing baseball, the Bulls struggled. During a strike for the MLB, Michael returned to the team for the 1995 to 1996 season at a price of $3.85 million. It would be the beginning of his second three-peat with the team.
As for his career earnings, Michael made $30.14 million during the 1996 to 1997 season. The highest salary he ever received was for the season featured on The Last Dance. He made $33.14 million that year, which inflated to 2020 levels, is around $53 million.
Though his career continued beyond his time with the Bulls, he took a salary cut to donate to victims of the 9/11 attacks. He took around $1 million each year during his time on the Washington Wizards.
In total, Michael made over $93 million from his basketball salary alone. In the years since his retirement, Michael has grown his net worth to an estimated $1.9 billion. He earns more than $100 million each year from royalties from his Air Jordan sneaker line with Nike.
Scottie Pippen's career earnings were greater than Michael Jordan's.
While The Last Dance is undeniably a story about Michael Jordan's legacy, Scottie Pippen is also presented as a crucial player for the Bulls' 1997 season championship victory. Following the docu-series' premiere on April 19, many users tweeted about Michael's legacy overshadowing Scottie Pippen.
Scottie's ex-wife, Larsa Pippen, then tweeted a screenshot from Bleacher Report about how Scottie actually made more money during his playing career than Michael.
Throughout Scottie's playing career, he made just under $110 million, while Michael made around $93 million.
In 1987, Scottie's debut professional season with the Bulls, he made $725,000. The following year, he made $575,000. Scottie made $765,000 for the 1989 and the 1990 seasons.
His first major contract came in 1991, when he earned $2.77 million. The following year, he was given $3.425 million, and for the 1993 season, he made just under $3.1 million.
From 1994 to 1998, he made between $2.25 and $2.95 million each year.
For his 13 seasons on the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen earned $32.6 million. For his one season on the Houston Rockets in 1998, he got $11 million.
Scottie finished his career on the Portland Trail Blazers, during which time he made the bulk of his career money — $66.356 million.
Michael may not have made the same total during his playing career as Scottie, but he's more than made up for the difference with his post-NBA deals.
The Last Dance airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN.