LeBron may not have a ring, but he made Heat owners a lot of money

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Heat fans – well, actually mostly Heat haters — were beating up LeBron James after fourth quarter struggles in the finals. The Internet is no fan of the “don’t kick a man when he’d down” axiom.

But the Heat’s management has been nothing but supportive. In part because they know if they want another banner LeBron is key to getting it for them.

And in part because he is making that franchise a lot of money, as Ira Winderman reported at the Sun Sentinel.

“I know the Heat’s franchise value went up $60 million after signing LeBron,” said Dr. Patrick Rishe, who calculated the LeBron Effect for business magazine Forbes. “You had ticket sales going up, sponsorships and local media deals going up. It’s hard to think of any one athlete whose changing of teams [is comparable]….”

Ratings for Heat regular-season games on Sun Sports were nearly twice as high as the previous season. The Heat-Mavericks Finals helped lift ABC to its best summer week in nearly 10 years. No matter that much of the nation tuned in hoping to see King James defrocked.

(Magic VP Pat) Williams recalled the philosophy of Bill Veeck, the late, great sports promoter: “If you’re going to have a rival, have a heated one. Have a hated one. Do it publicly. It’s good for the box office,” Williams said.

Two notes. One is that for all the talk about how much money LeBron (or Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard, etc.) make on max contracts, they are still a real value to the team. Those elite players generate way more income for the franchise than they are paid.

Secondly, all that momentum, everything that LeBron — love him or hate him — helped sparked would be undercut by a lockout that costs regular season games.