Michael Jordan being underpaid for a majority of his NBA career a big sticking point for him returning to the Chicago Bulls after his ‘unsavory’ 8 year/ $25 million deal was up following the 1995-96 NBA season. He would eventually get the money that he so rightfully deserved but Jordan wasn’t the only athlete in the world who was snagging big paydays as Mike Tyson was neck-and-neck with him for quite some time in the 1990s, eventually clearing him by a near difference of $20,000,000. Prior to the 90s however, both Tyson and Jordan would nearly come to blows with one another.
During a high profile dinner in 1988 that included the likes of Michael and Tyson, the latter had a bit too much alcohol in his system. With him going through a divorce with Robin Givens at the time, he felt as though there was something between MJ and his soon-to-be ex-wife.
So, for the rest of the night, Tyson kept telling guests that he would beat up the eventual 6x champ. Nothing came of the threats but if the significantly taller MJ reciprocated that energy, the story might’ve been much different.
Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson were neck-and-neck in earnings until the former eclipsed him
This is fascinating. Worth the watch! 🤯
History of the highest paid athletes: pic.twitter.com/sHapl7o0xN
— Andrew Petcash (@AndrewPetcash) July 28, 2023
In a fascinating graphic shown by Andrew Petcash on Twitter, the highest earnings athletes across the world throughout the 1990s are displayed. I can be seen that in the mid 90s, Tyson was the highest earning athlete in the world as he famously bagged $30,000,000 per fight on several occasions.
The prize fighter would be ahead of titans like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods with the largest difference between the Tyson and the former athlete coming to around $20,000,000. This wouldn’t last for long. Tyson’s reign would end when Jordan went on to sign back-to-back $30,000,000+ one-year contracts with the Chicago Bulls in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
Couple those two years with the money he received from endorsements and it’s safe to say that competing with MJ in the late 90s was quite nearly impossible. However, as the millennium closed, legendary F1 driver, Michael Schumacher, would take over.
Jordan continued to earn money from the NBA even when he was playing baseball
Michael Jordan left the Chicago Bulls and the NBA in the summer of 1993 following the tragic passing of his father, James Jordan, to pursue a career in Minor League Baseball in hopes of making it to the big leagues one day. Jordan signed with the Birmingham Barons and would go on to earn nothing close to what he was earning in the NBA.
Luckily for MJ, Jerry Reinsdorf, who happened to own the Red Sox, was kind enough to continue paying Jordan his Bulls salary. This was because of what he meant to the Bulls and the league and what he had done for them in terms of the revenue he brought in so giving him a couple extra million dollars was the least that they could do.