Forbes reports record income for clubs

Source:AFP-Global Times Published: 2015-1-23 5:03:03

NBA team values increased 74 percent over last year due to telecast rights and sales deals

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers sets up a play during their 106-109 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on January 2 in Los Angeles. Photo: CFP

Powered by record-setting telecast rights and club sales deals, the National Basketball Association saw team values skyrocket 74 percent over last year to a $1.1 billion average, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday.

The jump reported on the ­magazine website is the largest year-to-year gain since Forbes began listing its sports team values for the major North American leagues in 1998. It lists 11 NBA teams worth at least $1 billion compared to three in 2014.

The report said former Microsoft boss Steve Balmer overpaid when he bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion last year in the wake of the racism controversy surrounding former owner Donald Sterling, valuing the Clippers at $1.6 billion but noting the premium that teams in large cities have in value because of greater local revenue streams, citing those signed in the past six months by Miami, Atlanta and Sacramento.

Three months ago, the NBA signed new media rights deals with Walt Disney and Time Warner worth a combined $930 million a year starting with the 2016-17 season, almost three times the current telecast revenue.

The 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, whose 12-31 record is the fourth worst in the 30-team league this season, top the value list at $2.6 billion, jumping 93 percent from a year ago thanks in part to the NBA's richest local TV contract, worth $4 billion over 20 years and only in its third season.

The New York Knicks, whose 7-36 record is the NBA's worst, rank second on the value list at $2.5 billion, up 79 percent, and followed by the Chicago Bulls at $2 billion, Boston Celtics at $1.7 billion and the Clippers in fifth.

Nets only NBA loser

The Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks' New York neighbors, were sixth at $1.5 billion but were the only NBA club to lose money last season, ­according to Forbes.

Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov is selling his ­majority ­interest in the Nets after losing nearly $100 million last season, huge debt and high payroll among the troubles for a team that is 18-24, sitting in the final Eastern Conference playoff spot at mid-season.

Golden State, boasting the NBA's best record this season at 33-6, ranks seventh at $1.3 billion and the ­Warriors plan a new arena in San Francisco to open in 2018. The Houston Rockets were eighth at $1.25 billion with the Miami Heat ninth on $1.175 billion, ­Dallas Mavericks 10th at $1.15 billion and defending champion San Antonio Spurs 11th at $1 billion.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, valued 15th overall at $915 million, received a boost when LeBron James left ­Miami to rejoin his home-region squad. But his two-year deal for $42 million expires just in time for the new NBA TV deal to send salaries soaring to record sums in 2016.

The Atlanta Hawks, for sale after another racism controversy involving a club owner last year, rank 22nd at $825 million and top the Eastern Conference at 35-8. They made money last season after five years in a row of red ink.

The Memphis Grizzlies, 30-12 in the second smallest NBA market, took a league-high $23 million from revenue sharing last season and rank 25th at $750 million.

Bucks cheapest in NBA

The NBA's relative low-rent district includes the Michael ­Jordan-owned Charlotte Hornets at 26th on $725 million followed by the Philadelphia 76ers on $700 million, New Orleans Pelicans on 28th at $650 million, Minnesota Timberwolves at $625 million and Milwaukee Bucks at $600 million, $50 million more than the team was sold for in May.

Minnesota is 7-34 and set to miss the playoffs for the 11th season in a row, part of why the T-Wolves rank last in attendance in the NBA this season.

NBA revenues hit an average of $160 million a team, up five percent from last season.

Worldwide interest in the league helped boost team coffers as well, with global revenue growing at 18 percent a year and reaching $350 million last year, with NBA ­commissioner Adam Silver saying the league is open to European expansion.

A potential work stoppage could foil the deal owners and players signed in 2011. Either side could opt out after the 2016-2017 season and players are expected to want a greater share of revenues after major losses in the last negotiations.

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