Whether they’re rolling the red carpet out for A-list celebrities or shirking their duties on the court, Forbes’ annual valuation has the Knicks ranked as the most valuable team in the NBA for the second year in a row. The Lakers finished second, and so the drum beats on for large market teams in the NBA, regardless of win-loss record.
No team has benefited more than the New York Knicks. The NBA’s most valuable team for a second straight year, the Knicks are now worth $1.4 billion, up 27% from a year ago. A three-year, $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden pushed the Knicks’ revenue to $287 million, net of revenue sharing, last season. The Knicks’ average TV rating on the MSG Network was 3.1, up 71% from the previous season, as the team made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000 (both the Knicks and MSG are owned by publicly traded Madison Square Garden Company). The playoff run and arena renovation helped the Knicks generate operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $96 million–a record for an NBA franchise.
Rounding out the billionaire’s club among NBA teams, are the Lakers, valued at $1.35 billion, and the Bulls, worth $1 billion after leading the league in attendance for the last four years without wasting much in payroll (ask Omer Asik). The Celtics ($845 million) and the Nets — following their move across two rivers to Brooklyn ($780 million) round out the top five.
Forbes also estimates that the average franchise is now worth $634 million, which is up 25 percent from a year ago. Also, profits have doubled to an all-time high (not sure if inflation is figured into the equation) of $23.7 million in gross profit per team.
The bottom five starts with the Timberwolves at No. 26 ($430 million), the Hawks at No. 27 ($425 million), the Pelicans ($420 million), the Bobcats ($410 million) and the woeful Milwaukee Bucks, who are worth the lowest, at just $405 million. The Bucks also have four “serious suitors” for the team, as current 78-year-old owner Herb Kohl tries to hang on to partial ownership without moving the team out of Milwaukee.
But even with the struggling franchises, there’s a lot to say about Stern’s impact during his tenure as commissioner. He’ll hand the reins over to his deputy Adam Silver next month, and Forbes pays deference to the man, the myth, the smirking legend that is Stern.
Forbes estimates that the NBA had revenues of $118 million for the 1982-83 season, the last year before Stern took over as the head honcho. Last year, the NBA’s total revenue was in the vicinity of $4.6 billion. If you want to know why so many long-time NBA fans venerate Stern even as he appeared stuck in the past while making decisions the last few years, that discrepancy is a big reason why.
God bless David Stern and God bless the NBA.