|Kobe Bryant is the NBA's top earner. (Getty Images)|
The Los Angeles Lakers are back on top as the NBA's most valuable franchise and All-Star guard Kobe Bryant retains his crown as the league's top earner.
The latest evaluation from Forbes Magazine estimates that Bryant will earn $53.2 million in salary and endorsements this year, well more than his closest competition. Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James is No. 2 at $49 million.
Bryant’s following has allowed him to amass an endorsement portfolio of global brands including Nike, Smart Car, Panini and Turkish Airlines that pay him $28 million annually. Factor in his league leading $25.2 million salary from the Lakers and Bryant is the NBA’s top-earning athlete at $53.2 million.Bryant, 33, is a 5-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star. He is currently leading the NBA in scoring, at 30.5 points per game and is currently the Western Conference's leading vote-getter for the 2012 All-Star Game. Entering this season, Bryant had earned more than $196 million in salary during his career, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Bryant’s Lakers salary is $3 million greater than any other NBA player thanks to the idiosyncrasies of the NBA’s maximum salary rules on individual players.
In December, Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife, filed for divorce. She will reportedly receive up to $75 million in the divorce settlement, including three California houses owned by the couple.
The rest of the top-5 NBA earners, according to Forbes: Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard (28.9 million), Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade (27.7 million) and New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony (26.5 million).