Forbes: Knicks most valuable franchise, Kobe biggest earner

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The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers are each worth more than $1 billion dollars.

That is billion with a “B.”

They are the first NBA franchises to pass that mark, reports Forbes Magazine in its latest valuation of NBA franchises. The Knicks are worth $1.1 billion, the Lakers $1 billion even. The average NBA franchise is worth $509 million, up 30 percent from the year before, the magazine estimates.

Oh, and by the way, Kobe Bryant makes a lot of money — $59.8 million in salary and endorsements this year. The magazine also has released its list of highest earning players.

With the franchises, the Knicks move back into the top spot somewhat due to success on the court but mostly because of the $980 million renovation to Madison Square Garden. The renovation paved the way for more of the expensive, luxury seating and perks that drive team revenue. Because of that the value of the franchise jumped 41 percent in one year, according to Forbes.

By moving to Brooklyn and the new Barclays Center, the Nets value jumped 48 percent to $530 million. The lowest valued team? The Milwaukee Bucks at a “measly” $312 million.

As for players earnings, it’s Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and then everyone else.

Kobe tops the list with LeBron James second at $57.6 million. LeBron has more endorsement money coming in but his actual NBA salary is just more than $10 million less than Kobe’s $27.8 million.

Derrick Rose — he of the large Adidas contract — is third on the list at $32.4 million.

The rest of the top 10 is:

4. Dwyane Wade
5. Kevin Durant
6. Carmelo Anthony
7. Amar’e Stoudemire
8. Dwight Howard
9. Chris Paul
10. Pau Gasol

What each of those guys does is put butts in seats (even Gasol, although to a much lesser extent). Yes, they can score a lot (save maybe Stoudemire) but pay for an NBA player at the max is not just about on-court production as what he means for the bottom line of the franchise. While Kobe may be getting paid $27 million he’s worth probably three times that to the Lakers in terms of ticket sales, sponsorships and more.