Basketball: Knicks retain top spot as most valuable NBA team, says Forbes

Elfrid Payton of the New York Knicks slaps the ball after dunking against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half at State Farm Arena on Feb 9, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Elfrid Payton of the New York Knicks slaps the ball after dunking against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half at State Farm Arena on Feb 9, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The New York Knicks have not tasted success on the hardwood in nearly 50 years but are unbeatable when it comes to their worth as they were named the most valuable NBA team for a fifth straight year by Forbes on Tuesday (Feb 11).

In its annual rankings, Forbes said the Knicks, who last won an NBA title in 1973, are worth US$4.6 billion (S$6.3 billion), up 15 per cent from a year ago, due to a renovation of their arena, a blockbuster local TV deal and playing in the richest North American sports market.

The list comes one week after owner James Dolan said amid a shakeup to the Knicks' front office that he is not selling the team and remains committed to finding the right leader that can lift the once-proud franchise back to prominence.

"I am not selling, but I am determined to find the right leader for the Knicks who will ensure the long-term success of the team," Dolan, whose Knicks have not made the playoffs since 2013, said in a statement.

Forbes said the Los Angeles Lakers (US$4.4 billion), Golden State Warriors (US$4.3 billion), Chicago Bulls (US$3.2 billion), and Boston Celtics (US$3.1 billion) rounded out the top five.

The reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors were 10th on the list with a value of US$2.1 billion, a 25 per cent jump from a year ago. That represented the biggest gain in value in the league.

Forbes also said the average value of the NBA's 30 teams is US$2.12 billion, marking the first time it has topped US$2 billion.

The rise in valuations comes months after the season began in controversy when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy demonstrators in a since-deleted post that included an image captioned: "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong."

In the aftermath of Morey's tweet, China did not broadcast or stream the two preseason games that were held there while corporate partners in the country also scrapped or suspended relations with the league.

"Despite the noise around lower TV ratings and business problems in China, NBA franchise values continue to soar and are up 14 per cent, compared to an 11 per cent increase for NFL teams and 8 per cent in Major League Baseball," Forbes senior editor Kurt Badenhausen said in a news release.