Nearly half of the NBA’s 30 teams, are worth over a billion dollars.
The magazine’s recent round of team valuations revealed that, once taxes were considered, a winning Powerball ticket couldn’t even be traded in for a the majority ownership stake of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Thanks to the team’s television deal and a completely renovated Madison Square Garden with the highest suite prices in the league, the Knicks’ value jumped 20 percent to $3 billion, while the Los Angeles Lakers which held the top spot last year, came in at $2.7 billion.
Rounding out the top five were the Chicago Bulls ($2.3 billion), Boston Celtics ($2.1 billion) and the Los Angeles Clippers at $2 billion, the same price Steve Ballmer paid to buy the team in 2014.
The average NBA team is now worth $1.25 billion, 13 percent more than it was worth last year.
The magazine, in its rankings, cited the league’s media deal with ESPN/ABC and Turner that is worth $24 billion over nine years as one of the reasons for the continued rise in value.
New York’s current owners bought the Knicks, the NHL’s Rangers, Madison Square Garden and the MSG Network for $1.1 billion in 1994, which is quite the return on investment considering the Knicks’ new valuation, even accounting for the $1 billion in renovations that were made to Madison Square Garden in recent years.
The most impressive rise in franchise value is the Golden State Warriors, purchased by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber for a then-record $450 million in July 2010. Forbes says the Warriors, who hope to move into a new arena by 2019, are now the sixth-most valuable franchise at $1.9 billion. The Dallas Mavericks were bought by Mark Cuban in 2000 for $285 million.
The team is now worth $1.4 billion, according to Forbes, which is a 250 percent jump over the last 16 years, factoring for inflation.
Michael Jordan, who owns 93 percent of the Charlotte Hornets, bought 80 percent of the team on a $275 million valuation in 2010. Forbes says the team is now worth $750 million.
For long-term owners of teams, the return has been astronomical. Jerry Buss bought the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979 for $16 million. By 1990, the team was said to be worth a league-record $200 million by Financial World Magazine.
The least valuable team in the league is the New Orleans Pelicans at $650 million. The NBA sold the team to Tom Benson for $338 million in 2012.