Forbes released a detailed look at the value of each NBA franchise this week, asserting that almost every team is making a profit and generally performing better than before the 2011 lockout. The New York Knicks are considered the league’s most valuable team, with a worth of 1.4 billion dollars and an operating profit of $96 million. The Lakers and Bulls are also thought to be worth at least a billion dollars. On the other end of the spectrum are the Bucks, who did turn a profit but are worth the least amount of money ($405 million).
In addition to making a valuation of each franchise, Forbes describes NBA Commissioner David Stern’s role in helping the League grow to what it is today:
“When David Stern steps down from his role as NBA commissioner on Feb. 1 after 30 years in the top job, he’ll leave the league almost unrecognizable compared with the one he inherited in February 1984. Once a struggling also-ran to other professional sports, the National Basketball Association is now a global money machine, thanks in large part to Stern’s leadership on labor relations, drug testing, team expansion and other issues. NBA revenues, which were $118 million for the 1982-83 season, hit $4.6 billion for the league’s 30 teams last year. The Sacramento Kings—sold for $10.5 million in 1983—changed hands in May for $534 million. Playoff games were shown on tape-delay in the early 1980s, but are now broadcast live in 215 countries around the globe.
The average NBA franchise is worth (equity plus debt) $634 million, up 25% over last year. Collectively the 30 teams are worth $19 billion versus $400 million in 1984 when there were 23 teams. Stern has served his owners well. Under his watch, every team built or completely renovated their home arena leading to total gate receipts of $1.3 billion last season. He pushed through a salary cap starting with the 1984-85 season that helped owners turn a profit and level the playing field (the cap has increased from $3.6 million to $58.7 million this season). With some help from Nike, Stern’s idea of marketing of individual star players—Jordan, Kobe, LeBron—created global celebrities and fueled interest in the game.”