NBA teams generated a record $8.8 billion in revenue last year while the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors joined the New York Knicks above $4 billion in value, Forbes magazine reported Tuesday.
The annual look at NBA finances showed league revenues jumped 10% despite troubles in China over a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting Hong Kong protesters, a drop in television ratings and several top stars being sidelined by long-term injuries.
The Knicks, who appear destined to suffer a seventh consecutive losing season in the 2019-20 campaign, were rated the NBA's most valuable franchise for a fifth consecutive year at $4.6 billion, a 15% hike in value from a year earlier.
Among North American sports teams, only the NFL's Dallas Cowboys are valued higher at $5.5 billion with Major League Baseball's New York Yankees level with the Knicks at $4.6 billion.
Rounding out the top five most valuable North American sports franchises are the Lakers at $4.4 billion, up 19%, and the Warriors at $4.3 billion, up 23%.
For the first time, the "average" NBA team is worth more than $2 billion, $2.123 billion to be exact, an average hike of 14%. As recently as 2011, there was no NBA team valued at $1 billion.
By comparison, the average NFL team grew 11% in value over the past year to $2.86 billion while the average MLB club grew 8% in value to $1.78 billion.
The NBA's higher growth rate has been prompted by strong international income and major media rights deals.
Only the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors had a higher value jump than Golden State, the Canadian club boosted by 25% in year-over-year value.
The Warriors were helped by a new $1 billion home arena in San Francisco, leaving behind a smaller and older facility in Oakland.
But they also lost to Toronto in the NBA Finals, lost injured star Kevin Durant to Brooklyn in free agency and following major injuries to star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were 12-42 with the NBA's worst record after five consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals.
Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets and their home arena for $3.3 billion and Michael Jordan sold a 20% stake in the Charlotte Hornets, who were valued in the deal at $1.5 billion.
The Chicago Bulls ranked fourth in club value at $3.2 billion with the Boston Celtics fifth on $3.1 billion followed in order by the Los Angeles Clippers at $2.6 billion, the Nets at $2.5 billion, the Houston Rockets at $2.475 billion, the Dallas Mavericks at $2.4 billion and the Raptors on $2.1 billion with the Philadelphia 76ers on $2 billion after a 21% jump in value.