NEW YORK, Feb 13 — NBA teams generated a record US$8.8 billion (RM36.4 billion) in revenue last year while the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors joined the New York Knicks above US$4 billion in value, Forbes magazine reported Tuesday.
The annual look at NBA finances showed league revenues jumped 10 per cent despite troubles in China over a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting Hong Kong protesters, a drop in television ratings and several top stars being sidelined by long-term injuries.
The Knicks, who appear destined to suffer a seventh consecutive losing season in the 2019-20 campaign, were rated the NBA’s most valuable franchise for a fifth consecutive year at US$4.6 billion, a 15 per cent hike in value from a year earlier.
Among North American sports teams, only the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys are valued higher at US$5.5 billion with Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees level with the Knicks at US$4.6 billion.
Rounding out the top five most valuable North American sports franchises are the Lakers at US$4.4 billion, up 19 per cent, and the Warriors at US$4.3 billion, up 23 per cent.
For the first time, the “average” NBA team is worth more than US$2 billion, US$2.123 billion to be exact, an average hike of 14 per cent. As recently as 2011, there was no NBA team valued at US$1 billion.
By comparison, the average NFL team grew 11 per cent in value over the past year to US$2.86 billion in value while the average MLB club grew eight per cent in value to US$1.78 billion.
The NBA’s higher growth rate has been prompted by strong international income and major media rights deals.
Only the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors had a higher value jump than Golden State, the Canadian club boosted by 25 per cent in year-over-year value.
The Warriors were helped by a new US$1 billion home arena in San Francisco, leaving behind a smaller and older facility in Oakland.
But they also lost to Toronto in the NBA Finals, lost injured star Kevin Durant to Brooklyn in free agency and following major injuries to star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were 12-42 with the NBA’s worst record after five consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals.
Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets and their home arena for US$3.3 billion and Michael Jordan sold a 20 per cent stake in the Charlotte Hornets, who were valued in the deal at US$1.5 billion.
The Chicago Bulls ranked fourth in club value at US$3.2 billion with the Boston Celtics fifth on US$3.1 billion followed in order by the Los Angeles Clippers at US$2.6 billion, the Nets at US$2.5 billion, the Houston Rockets at US$2.475 billion, the Dallas Mavericks at US$2.4 billion and the Raptors on US$2.1 billion with the Philadelphia 76ers on US$2 billion after a 21 per cent jump in value. — AFP