The National Basketball Association is one of the most prestigious leagues in all sports, boasting primetime superstars and a vast global audience. After the NFL and MLB, the NBA is the third-highest grossing league in the world, bringing in revenue of close to $9 billion last year. Lucrative TV deals, ticket sales, and merchandise are the driving force behind the NBA's commercial success, and according to Forbes, for the first time since its conception, every NBA franchise is now worth at least $1 billion. So, out of the league's 30 franchises, who are the most valuable? Let's take a look.
One of the most consistently successful teams over the past decade, the Boston Celtics, are worth approximately $3.1 billion, according to Forbes. Although the Celtics haven't won many championships, they are always in the reckoning — they've made the playoffs 11 out of the last 12 seasons and can boast one of the best attendances in the league. Not bad, given that Boston is the only team on this list with a metro area population of fewer than 5 million.
The Chicago Bulls were undoubtedly the team of the '90s when Michael Jordan led the franchise to an incredible 6 NBA championships. The success — and Jordan's superstardom — cemented the Bulls as one of the most recognizable brands in the NBA. Since their '90s heyday, however, success has been hard to come by, with no championship titles since 1998. Nonetheless, the Bulls remain one of the most valuable franchises, with unrivaled access to a vast market — the Chicago metropolitan area. Much like the Bears, their NFL equivalent, the Bulls' performances on gameday haven't damaged their commercial appeal.
The Golden State Warriors are the modern success story of the NBA. Majority owner Joe Lacob and his team purchased the Warriors for $450 million back in 2010. He's seen a significant return on investment, with the Bay Area franchise now worth an eye-watering $4.3 billion and raking in $440 million annually in revenue alone. The Warriors also boast a commercial goldmine in their new, privately-owned stadium in downtown San Francisco, worth approximately $1.6 billion. Have we even mentioned Steph Curry yet?
Arguably the most recognizable brand in basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers have seen an impressive 19% increase in value over the past year, taking their worth to $4.4 billion. The Lakers have enjoyed considerable success on the court, with superstar names like the late Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and, more recently, LeBron James, all donning the famous yellow and purple. However, along with brand recognition, it's the vast Los Angeles market and the Lakers' STAPLES Center arena that propel their value into the top echelons of the NBA.
Despite their continued lack of success on the court, the most valuable franchise in the NBA is New York's premier team, the Knicks, who are worth slightly more than the Lakers at $4.6 billion after seeing their value rise by 15% over the past year. One of the main reasons for the Knicks' commercial dominance is the size of their market — New York City and the surrounding area is the largest in the league.