New York: Even without Asian-American star Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks are the most valuable franchise in the NBA at $1.1 billion (Dh4.04 billion), according to a list released on Wednesday by Forbes magazine.
The Los Angeles Lakers were second, also at $1.1 billion, followed by the Chicago Bulls at $800 million, the Boston Celtics at $730 million, the Dallas Mavericks at $685 million and the NBA champion Miami Heat at $625 million.
Lin, the NBA’s first Asian-American player, touched off ‘Lin-sanity’ last February when he came off the bench to spark the injury-hit Knicks on a six-game win streak with clutch shooting and passing skills.
But the Knicks did not match an offer from the Houston Rockets and Lin went to the Texas squad this season, signing a three-year deal worth $25 million.
The Rockets were seventh on the Forbes list at $568 million, with Golden State at $555 million, the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets at $530 million and the San Antonio Spurs at $527 million rounding out the NBA’s richest 10 teams.
Ranked 11th at $525 million were the Sacramento Kings, who are in the process of being sold by the Maloof family for that sum to a group that would move the team to Seattle, which lost the NBA SuperSonics when they relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
On the bottom of the Forbes list came the Milwaukee Bucks, valued at $312 million. Just ahead of them were the Charlotte Bobcats at $315 million, Atlanta Hawks at $316 million, New Orleans Hornets at $340 million and Minnesota Timberwolves at $364 million.
The Washington Wizards, with the NBA’s worst record on the court, ranked 23rd on the list at $397 million.
The Knicks’ value jumped 41 per cent thanks in part to a renovation of Madison Square Garden that moved more seats closer to the court, allowing for a jump of ticket prices by an average of 49 per cent last season.
Merchandise sales and television ratings were also higher, giving the Knicks $243 million in revenues last season. Both figures were boosted by the ‘Linsanity’ phenomenon.
The Lakers’ value jumped 11 per cent despite the team having the highest payroll in the NBA for the third year in a row, forcing the club to pay $12.6 million in luxury tax under NBA salary cap rules.
The Celtics boasted the highest average ticket price at $69 to help their value jump 51 per cent while the Nets jumped 48 per cent thanks to the relocation from New Jersey to a new arena in nearby Brooklyn.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns 80 per cent of the Nets with arena majority owner Bruce Ratner owning the other 20 per cent.
NBA commissioner David Stern, set to retire in another 12 months after 30 years on the job, successfully saw team values jump after the signing of a deal with players that split revenues 50-50 following a lockout that trimmed the season by 20 per cent.
The average NBA team is worth $509 million, a jump of 30 per cent over last year’s figures, largely due to the new union contract.