The average NBA franchise is worth (equity plus debt) $634 million, up 25% over last year. Collectively the 30 teams are worth $19 billion versus $400 million in 1984 when there were 23 teams. Stern has served his owners well. Under his watch, every team built or completely renovated their home arena leading to total gate receipts of $1.3 billion last season. He pushed through a salary cap starting with the 1984-85 season that helped owners turn a profit and level the playing field (the cap has increased from $3.6 million to $58.7 million this season). With some help from Nike, Stern’s idea of marketing of individual star players—Jordan, Kobe, LeBron—created global celebrities and fueled interest in the game (see “Kobe, LeBron Lead NBA’s Highest-Paid Players“).
No team has benefited more than the New York Knicks. The NBA’s most valuable team for a second straight year, the Knicks are now worth $1.4 billion, up 27% from a year ago. A three-year, $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden pushed the Knicks’ revenue to $287 million, net of revenue sharing, last season. The Knicks’ average TV rating on the MSG Network was 3.1, up 71% from the previous season, as the team made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000 (both the Knicks and MSG are owned by publicly traded Madison Square Garden Company). The playoff run and arena renovation helped the Knicks generate operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $96 million–a record for an NBA franchise. Forbes