Forbes: Bulls are third most valuable NBA team

Forbes: Bulls are third most valuable NBA team
January 23, 2014, 9:00 am
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Mark Strotman

Despite Derrick Rose playing in just 10 games and the Bulls winning one playoff series, the franchise's worth is at an all-time high, according to a report from Forbes.

For the first time in its history, the Bulls are now worth $1 billion, up 25 percent from a year ago. Forbes notes that the franchise's joint venture with the United Center with an estimated worth of $5 million annually. Attendance has played a large role in the value increase, too. The Bulls and United Center have led the league in attendance the last four seasons and have averaged more than 21,500 fans per game, 1,700 fans more than Dallas (19,981).

The Bulls' cautious approach to the salary cap also has helped revenue; despite the team paying the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history ($3.9 million), Forbes says the team still brought in $52 million in profit last year, fourth most in the NBA.

The Bulls still trail New York ($1.4 billion) and the Los Angeles Lakers ($1.35 billion), in large part to the two franchises having the two largest average TV audiences per game.

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Surprisingly, the Indiana Pacers rank 22nd in total value ($475 million), though individual ticket sales were up 50 percent last year and the team began selling on-court advertising in October, according to Forbes' report.

The bottom five teams in total value are the Detroit Pistons ($450 million), the Minnesota Timberwolves ($430 million), the Atlanta Hawks ($425 million), the New Orleans Pelicans ($420 million), the Charlotte Bobcats ($410 million) and the Milwaukee Bucks ($410 million).

The article, written by Kurt Badenhausen, focused on the job NBA commissioner David Stern has done the past 30 years. He'll be stepping down on Feb. 1, leaving behind a business that made $118 million in revenue the year before he took over and brought in $4.6 billion in revenue last season, according to Forbes. All 30 teams are now worth $19 billion compared to $400 million in 1984 -- there were only 23 teams in the league then, compared to 30 teams currently.

Other highlights from the article include:

-- Playoff games are now broadcast live in 215 countries around the world; in 1984 all playoff games were broadcast in America on tape-delay. Stern's implementation of branding individual superstars has helped the global game, and there are now 92 international players from 39 different in the league

-- The average NBA franchise is worth $634 million, up 25 percent from last season.

-- TV contracts with ESPN/ABC and TNT are worth an average of $930 million annually, good through the 2015-16 season.

-- Social media has exploded under Stern, as the NBA has "the top four Facebook followings among U.S. sports teams led by the Lakers with 18 million fans." Also, "the NBA's league Facebook page has twice as many fans as the NFL's and almost four times that of MLB." That NBA Facebook page has nearly 19.5 million "likes."

-- Only four teams (Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Minnesota) had a loss in operating income.