Founded in New York City in 1946, the National Basketball Association has become one of the richest leagues in sports. Not only is it the premier men’s professional basketball league in North America, but it is also considered the most elite basketball association in the world. NBA players find themselves among some of the best paid sportsmen on Earth, earning an average salary of almost $4.2 million per year. That’s higher than the average salaries in the MLB, NHL and NFL.
Despite this high average salary, not all players are paid equally, and likewise, not all teams are worth the same amount of money. The NBA is comprised of 30 teams and their values differ enormously from one team to the next. On the lower end of the spectrum we find clubs like the Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Bobcats with team values of $312 million and $315 million respectively. These teams still support revenues of around $90 million per year, but that’s nothing compared the the league’s richest franchises. Competition throughout the league extends beyond the court as teams attempt to capitalize on their stars to sell as much merchandise as possible and boost their revenue.
However, contrary to many beliefs, money isn’t everything in sports. In the 2012-13 season the Memphis Grizzles (Who sit at 25th on the NBA’s rich list), finished sixth in the league with a 56-26 record and made it to the Western Conference Finals, losing to the league’s tenth-richest team, the San Antonio Spurs.
With all that in mind, lets delve into the Top 10 list of richest NBA teams this year.
10. San Antonio Spurs – Current Value: $527 Million
Bought by Peter Holt for a price of $76 million in 1996, the San Antonio Spurs have grown to be one of the NBA’s most profitable teams. Since their 1997-98 season, the Spurs have won 70% of their games, and a total of four NBA titles in the process. The Spurs have enjoyed the highest tv ratings in the NBA for the second straight year on Fox Sports Southwest, though the numbers have dipped considerably from the previous year. Last season, the Spurs were one of the six NBA teams to pay the luxury tax, setting them back around $2.5 million. The team has an annual revenue of $135 million.
9. Brooklyn Nets – Current Value: $540 Million
Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, owns 80% of the stake in the Brooklyn Nets, the rest being shared with real estate developer, Bruce Ratner. The Nets played in Newark’s Prudential Center until last year, but have now moved to Brooklyn and opened their new arena, the Barclays Center. Ratner owns a 55% controlling stake in the arena, while Prokhorov owns the rest. Jay-Z is also a small investor in the Nets, and regularly performs concerts at the team’s arena during off season. The Brooklyn Nets are pegged to earn revenue of around $4 per fan. That comes to about $84 million in total revenue each year.
8. Golden State Warriors – Current Value: $555 Million
Owned by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, The Golden State Warriors have won three NBA championships in their history. They were purchased in 2010 for a price of $450 million. The Warriors’ lease of local Oracle Arena expires in 2017, which is when the team has planned to open a new one on San Francisco’s waterfront. The project is projected to cost a whopping $1 billion, with the city government reimbursing $120 million of the payment, along with the required interest. Apart from the arena, the structure would also hold condominiums, hotels and a parking lot. The Warriors’ annual revenue is about $127 million.
7. Houston Rockets – Current Value: $568 Million
Purchased in 1993 by Leslie Alexander for a meagre $85 million, the Houston Rockets have grown to be one of the biggest NBA teams today. The team missed the NBA playoffs for three consecutive years, but managed to pull themselves together, making the post-season last year. They boast a high revenue of $16 per fan, and have also managed to launch a regional sports network of their own. Comcast SportsNet Houston is jointly owned by the Rockets, the MLB’s Houston Astros and Comcast, and the network was launched for the 2012-13 season. The Rockets’ annual revenue is $135 million.
6. Miami Heat – Current Value: $625 Million
The Miami Heat has been owned by Micky Arson since he purchased the team in 1988 for just $32 million. The team won their second championship last year after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, and they are poised to be one of this year’s hot favorites. Running on a high from their back-to-back championships, the Heat’s television ratings jumped by around 34% last year, becoming the second best in the entire league. They earn revenue of around $19 per fan and are expected to perform even better in the coming years. The team’s total annual revenue is about $150 million.
5. Dallas Mavericks – Current Value: $685 Million
The Dallas Mavericks were bought by Mark Cuban in 2000 for an amazing $280 million. The Mavericks sold out all their games last season and currently hold the record for the most sold-out regular season games in the NBA. Much of the credit duly goes to Cuban, who despite being known for his crazy antics during games, knows how to market his team. The Mavs are also known for being hit hard by the league’s luxury tax, having paid $107 million in the past seven years alone, though the $2.7 million worth of tax paid last season was their lowest yet. Cuban’s Mavericks brought home about $137 million in revenue last year.
4. Boston Celtics – Current Value: $730 Million
The Boston Celtics have the third-highest ticket price in NBA, averaging $69 per seat. Overall, they have been an extremely successful franchise, winning a total of 17 NBA championships as of now. The Celtics consistently seek out new sponsors and are always on the lookout to maximize their profit and earnings potential. Their Sun Life deal was one of the biggest NBA marketing campaigns ever seen, and it included marking their brand on the team’s front-row seats, in-game advertisement, area signage, and even website promotion on Celtics.com. The Celtics raised a lot of cash last year by bringing investor Rob Hale into the team.The franchise boasts annual revenues of about $143 million.
3. Chicago Bulls – Current Value: $800 Million
Owned by Jerry Reinsdorf since 1985, the Chicago Bulls have won a total of 6 NBA titles. They consistently enjoy stronger television ratings and have a stronger fan following than many other teams. The Bulls have the fourth-highest priced non-premium tickets in the NBA at $68, coming right after Celtics. With an average attendance of 22,161 per game, the Chicago Bulls are the leaders when it comes to the number of people watching the games live inside the arena. Their ratings also rank consistently high on the CSN network. The Bulls annual revenue comes in at $162 million.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – Current Value: $1 Billion
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most celebrated NBA teams, having won a total of 16 championships in the club’s history. They are one of only two NBA team to be valued at over $1 billion. Last year, the Lakers saw a surge in their revenue, thanks to the $3.6 billion television deal with Times Warner Cable to telecast their matches exclusively. They also have the highest payroll of all the NBA teams, and had to pay a whopping $12.6 million in luxury taxes last year. Over the past three seasons, the Lakers have paid $55 million in luxury tax, the highest amongst all the teams. Their annual revenue is strong at $197 million.
1. New York Knicks – Current Value: $1.1 Billion
The New York Knicks are the most valuable team in NBA for the year 2013. They are owned by Madison Square Garden, who purchased the team in 1997 for $300 million. The Knicks’ home arena, the Madison Square Garden, is undergoing a renovation which will cost almost a billion dollars. Thanks to Linsanity in 2012, their ratings almost doubled on the MSG Network last year. The Knicks’ merchandise is also the second best-selling amongst all the teams today, which adds significantly to their revenue of $243 million last year.
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