The NBA is a star-studded league, and when it comes to tickets, fans pay to see their favorite stars play. You can see this during the regular season by looking at the teams with the most expensive ticket prices. For this current season, each of the five most expensive teams have a franchise player (Cavaliers, Knicks, Bulls, Lakers, Warriors), if you consider healthy versions of Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Kobe Bryant franchise players. It also shows up on the road, where a visit from say, LeBron James can lead to astronomical prices. Compared to the 2013-2014 season, the average price for Miami Heat tickets without LeBron dropped by 37.1 percent.
On the flip side, this year the Cavs had an average road game ticket price of $237.16, which is a 146.8% increase over the previous season’s average of $96.10. Star power is also affecting the NBA Finals secondary market. With four-time MVP LeBron James and 2015 MVP Steph Curry facing off, the matchup is evoking legendary rivalries like Magic vs. Bird and making games during this series an expensive ticket on the secondary market.
According to Ticketmaster’s NBA Ticket Exchange, the current average price across all NBA Finals games is $1,549.55. Tickets to Warriors NBA Finals home games (Games 1, 2, 5, and 7) are slightly higher at $1,583.33, whereas Cavaliers home games (games 3, 4, and 6) average $1,472.40.
Below, we’ll examine when the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers turned their fortunes around, and what it has meant to the secondary market for their tickets.
Golden State Warriors
Moment: Drafted Stephen Curry seventh overall in the 2009 NBA Draft.
When “It” Clicked: 2014-15 season.
The 2014-15 NBA MVP and the Golden State Warriors had quite the meteoric rise this season, having one of the best regular seasons in NBA history. After the lockout-shortened season in 2011-12 where Curry only played 26 of 66 games due to ankle injuries, Curry’s sharpshooting has turned him into the “Baby-Faced Assassin” that puts fear into all NBA defenses. This season, Curry became the fastest player in NBA history to make 1,000 career three-pointers (88 fewer games than Dennis Scott), broke his own record for most three-pointers made in a single season and most recently became the fastest player to make 100 three-pointers in the playoffs. At 27 years old, Curry has enough time to re-write an entire sharpshooting section of the record book all for himself when his career is set and done.
What Curry Has Meant To The Ticket Market: The Warriors have a higher average price for their NBA Finals games than Cleveland at $1,583.33. The average ticket price for Game 7 is $2,053.97 with a get-in price of $875. The average ticket price (which has increased in each season since 2012-13 season) for Warriors’ regular season home games at Oracle Arena this season was $185.85. Last season’s average ticket price for home games was $113.34, while the average ticket price for the 2012-2013 season was $63.83. The 191% jump from $63.83 to $185.85 in two seasons was actually behind Cleveland’s 246% price jump from last year to this year.
Moment: The Sports Illustrated that set Twitter on fire titled, “LeBron: I’m Coming Back to Cleveland.”
When “It” Clicked: July 12, when James signed his two-year contract and made it official.
With a plethora of NBA accomplishments that only compare to the greatest players in the sport’s history, James has only one goal in his sights — winning a championship in Cleveland. The thought of James returning to the team he was drafted No. 1 overall by in 2003 was simply unlikely after the messy divorce with team owner Dan Gilbert when James left for greener pastures in Miami. After winning two championships away from home, James finds himself and the rest of his Cavalier teammates one series victory away from the Larry O’Brien trophy. The team became a serious contender on the court with the acquisitions of Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith mid-season, to go with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
What Has James Meant To The Ticket Market: Sometimes proving cause and effect is pretty easy. In 2013-14, Cleveland Cavaliers’ home games at Quicken Loans Arena had an average ticket price of $68.17. This season, the average ticket price for regular season home games was $235.84. Although the Cavaliers had the highest average ticket price for home games in the regular season, they have a lower single-game average ticket price for NBA Finals home games at $1,472.40. For Game 6 the get-in price at the Q is $492, which will surely rise should the Cavs find themselves with a 3-2 series lead heading in to that game.