* NBA teams lead the way when it comes to the world's highest payers
* LeBron James is on $NZ44.2m a year, with the average Cavalier on $11.6m
* A new TV deal for the NBA has allowed the teams to spend more on wages
* New York Yankees baseball players are the second highest paid globally
* Brexit, and the slump of the pound, mean those paid in US dollars benefit

Brexit and a bumper new TV deal in America's top basketball league have combined to see NBA teams flood the top of the rich list of best-paid sports teams in the world this year.

A global survey has revealed the Cleveland Cavaliers, home to NBA icon LeBron James, now have the highest salaries in global sport, with their stars earning an average of $NZ11.6 million for the 2016-17 season that began last month.

That works out at almost $NZ223,000 a week on average for each of the 15 players on their roster. James is their top earner on $NZ43.3m, while five of the team earn almost $NZ14m.


The survey considered the pay of almost 10,000 sportsmen at 333 teams in seven sports across 17 of the world's richest leagues.

The Brexit vote in late June caused the American dollar to soar against the British pound, meaning stars who are paid in US dollars are relatively much better off. But the NBA has had another massive boost this season thanks to a new nine-year $NZ33.6 billion TV deal, a 180 per cent increase on than the last one, signed in 2007.

This has raised average NBA salaries by $NZ3.54m per man when the exchange rate benefits are also included.

It is that deal that has propelled New Zealand basketball star Steve Adams into the financial stratosphere with his new four-year contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder worth $NZ140m - or $NZ35m a year.

The NBA were already the best paying sports league in the world. The 2015 global sports salaries survey showed average pay at $NZ4.77m per man. That figure is now $NZ8.5m, with the Cavaliers the richest.

Fourteen of the 20 best paying teams in global sport are NBA teams in the 2016 survey. Of the 449 NBA players on the 30 rosters, 109 of them, or almost a quarter, will earn almost $NZ14m or more this season for playing.

These sums do not include any off-court sponsorships or endorsements. The currency bounce for the dollar has also helped some MLB baseball teams climb past a variety of giant football rivals.

The New York Yankees are No2 in the list behind the Cavaliers, paying $NZ10.2m per man on average, while the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, LA Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers make the top 30.

The new World Series champions, the Chicago Cubs, are No 44 on $NZ7m per year on average. A year ago, there were eight football teams in the top 10. Now there are four.
Manchester United have the highest wages in world football according to a global survey, with the first-team squad earning $NZ10.2 million a year basic salary on average.

But the English Premier League remains by far the best-paid football league on the planet. Average basic first-team pay in England's top division is $NZ4,311,580, or $NZ86,242 a week. That is close to double the average wage in La Liga, which is just more than $NZ2.1m per player per year, or $NZ43,834 a week.

And United are now the fourth best-paid team in world sport and the best-paid football team in the world, man for man.

The salary survey found the average first-team wage at Old Trafford equates to basic pay of $NZ196,000 a week.

The acquisition of world-record signing Paul Pogba and high-earner Zlatan Ibrahimovic have propelled them up the list.

Barcelona, home to Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, are the second best-paid football team and fifth across all teams, averaging $NZ9.9m per player a year, or almost $NZ193,000 a week, while Manchester City are third, and ranked No 9 in the world. Real Madrid are the fourth best-paid football team, the No 19 team across all sport.

The gender equality gap in sport is put in stark relief by the new figures on pay.

For example, the combined salaries of every player in the 2016 season in the women's basketball competition in America, the WNBA, which is the highest paying women's league in the world, was about $NZ15.3m.

There are 95 players in the 2016-17 men's NBA who are each earning more than the entire WNBA. - Daily Mail