NBA team is a dud on the court, but most valuable as a franchise

The New York Knicks may be an embarrassment on the court, but as a commercial enterprise the team is top of the league. 

The Knicks, struggling through another dispiriting season, are the National Basketball Association’s most valuable franchise for the second straight year, according to a Forbes poll. The franchise is worth $3.3 billion, up 10 percent from 2015 and ahead of the No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers at $3 billion.

Despite not making the playoffs since 2013 and currently carrying a record of 23 wins against 33 losses, the Knicks are benefiting from a $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden that has yielded additional revenue from sponsorships and seating, according to the publication. The team earned a record operating profit last year of $141 million, boosted by a sweetened local cable deal.

Rounding out the top five most valuable NBA teams are the Golden State Warriors ($2.6 billion), Chicago Bulls ($2.5 billion) and Boston Celtics ($2.2 billion). Reigning NBA champs the Cleveland Cavaliers rank only No. 11 at $1.2 billion.

The Knicks’ profits will presumably hearten owner James Dolan, an unpopular figure on the New York sports scene. He was recently involved in an embarrassing incident when former player Charles Oakley was arrested during a game at Madison Square Garden after allegedly verbally abusing Dolan. The Knicks have also drawn attention for a public feud between team president Phil Jackson and marquee player Carmelo Anthony.

The NBA as a whole has seen a jump in the value of its teams. The average pro basketball franchise is now worth nearly $1.4 billion, a more than threefold increase since 2012, according to Forbes. Powering that gain is a $24 billion television deal the league kicked off this year with ESPN and TNT, along with the NBA’s growing popularity abroad.

NBA clubs have a ways to go to catch the top National Football League franchises in terms of value. In 2016, Forbes valued the New England Patriots, winners of this year’s Super Bowl, at $3.4 billion, while the Dallas Cowboys ranked No. 1 at $4.2 billion.

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    Alain Sherter covers business and economic affairs for