The NBA has come a long way over the years. And as it gains in world-wide following and popularity, its teams continue to increase in value.
In Forbes annual list of most valuable franchises, three familiar teams appeared at the top — with impressively high numbers: the Knicks at $4.6 billion, the Lakers at $4.4 billion, and the Warriors at $4.3 billion. Rounding out the top five are the Bulls and Celtics.
By our scorecard, the moribund New York Knicks grab the top spot ($4.6 billion) for the fifth straight year, up 15%, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers ($4.4 billion) and the Golden State Warriors ($4.3 billion). These three teams have by far the highest revenue in the NBA. Only the Dallas Cowboys ($5.5 billion) are worth more than the Knicks among North American sports franchises, with the New York Yankees ($4.6 billion) the only other team ahead of the Lakers and the Warriors.
In addition, teams in New York and Los Angeles go for sky-high revenue multiples. Recall that Steve Ballmer paid 14 times revenue for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. Tsai paid 11 times revenue for the Nets. The revenue multiple that billionaire Tilman Fertitta paid for the Houston Rockets in 2017 was a relatively cheap seven.
Despite their struggles, the New York Knicks remain one of the most valuable franchises not just in basketball, but in all of sports. Situated in New York City, their prime location and home in the world-famous Madison Square Garden makes them almost unmatchable in terms of value.
The Lakers, of course, have a long and rich history of winning. They consistently recruit stars and have established a culture very few organizations in the league can match. Their location, history, and star-power rank them near the top year after year.
The Warriors, meanwhile, haven’t been dominant for very long, but the franchise has found unprecedented success in recent years.
These three teams reside in the biggest markets in the NBA, and their advantage in recruiting free agents and other stars is clear. With the exception of the Knicks, the teams are in control of the NBA, and will likely be good for many years to come.
It’ll be interesting to see if things change any time soon.