L.A.'s top-paid athletes are livin' large as they spread their fabulous fortunes around, and they're making plenty of others rich in the process.

In addition to their huge salaries, the players are pulling in big bucks from business and financial investments, as well as from entertainment endeavors bringing their collective gross annual earnings to more than a quarter billion dollars a year.

A good chunk of that money is being spent on lavish homes and other possessions.

For example, Shaquille O'Neal, L.A.'s highest-paid athlete, has spent big bucks on at least four mansions in recent years. In 1999, he dropped $2.6 million for a 15,000-square-foot Beverly Hills home with eight rooms, 14 baths, an elevator, a tennis court and a 35-foot-tall entry hall surely a strong selling point for the 7-foot-1-inch, 310-pound center.

Before then, he had been leasing a 5,000-square-foot Wilshire Corridor penthouse for $25,000 a month and had also been renting a sprawling $3 million home in the ritzy "Hill Section" of Manhattan Beach.

In addition to these not-so-humble abodes, O'Neal shelled out $4 million for a 27,000-square-foot pad in an exclusive Florida community called Isleworth and, in 1996, he purchased a huge home for his girlfriend in the star-studded Sugar Land neighborhood in Houston.

"Golden Boy" Oscar de la Hoya has also paid a pretty penny for some spiffy digs, including a mammoth-sized retreat in the San Bernardino mountains, where he trains, and a 10,000-square-foot Bel Air mansion that has six bedrooms, maid's quarters, a gym with a sauna, plus a media room, a pool, a tennis court and a 300-foot driveway that winds through the secluded 2.2-acre estate.

Kobe Byrant and Shawn Green own equally impressive homes.

In 1999, the 22-year-old Byrant spent $2.5 million on an 8,200-square-foot ocean-view estate in Pacific Palisades and the left-handed power-hitter Green recently spent nearly $3.9 million for a newly built, 6,000-square-foot home on a quiet Pacific Palisades street.

But local real estate agents aren't the only Angelenos getting rich on commissions paid by L.A's top-earning athletes. There's a rapidly growing sub-economy of sports agents, financial planners, tax attorneys and money managers who are helping themselves to some pretty hefty slices of the ever-expanding professional sports salary pie.

Management teams

David Carter, a sports business consultant at Sports Management Group in Redondo Beach, said it is not uncommon for top athletes to have as many as 15 people on their management teams.

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