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January 22, 2015 Updates

The lawsuit seeking to block the succession change was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court at mid-day Thursday and assigned to Judge Kern Reese. It presents numerous claims that Benson is mentally and physically unfit to manage his personal or business affairs. Renee, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, are named as petitioners in the suit, which claims the 87-year-old Benson's declining health is much worse than publicly known and has rendered him unfit to manage his personal affairs or the business of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. The suit attempts to paint Gayle Benson, 67, as a gold-digging opportunist who has taken advantage of her husband's unfit state of health and ostracized family members in grasping for power and riches. New Orleans Times-Picayune

The Los Angeles Lakers unseated the New York Knicks as the NBA's most valuable team, worth $2.6 billion, according to a Forbes poll released on Wednesday that showed the average team value rose 74 percent from last year. The average NBA team's value rose to $1.1 billion from $634 million last year, a jump Forbes said was driven primarily by the NBA signing expanded national media deals with broadcast partners Walt Disney Co and Time Warner Inc. Reuters

Forbes just released the results of its study of the top fan bases in the NBA, and the number one spot is indeed taking its talents to South Beach. The business-oriented publication used “five measurable fan engagement criteria,” which were as follows: Washington Post

January 21, 2015 Updates

There are now 11 NBA teams worth at least $1 billion, by our count, compared to three a year ago. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the way at $2.6 billion, up 93% over last year. The Lakers finished with their second worst record in franchise history at 27-55 last season and are faring even worse this year, but the team has the richest local TV deal in the sport: a 20-year, $4 billion contract with Time Warner that kicked off in 2012. Ratings on SportsNet LA were off 54% last year, but the team still pocketed $125 million for the season from Time Warner. The team’s operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was an NBA-record $104 million in a year when Kobe Bryant missed all but six games. The haul would have been even greater, but the Lakers were forced to contribute $50 million to the NBA’s revenue-sharing pool last season. The Lakers had the NBA’s highest revenue at $293 million, net of revenue sharing. Forbes.com

The value of the New York Knicks shot up 79% to $2.5 billion, ranking the team second overall (the Knicks edged out the Lakers last year). Ratings for Knicks games on MSG fell 29% as the team stumbled to a 37-45 record, but the team still drew the biggest TV audience in the NBA at 163,000 viewers per game on average. The Knicks’ income fell 45% last season after missing the playoffs and incurring a $36 million luxury tax bill. Rounding out the top five are the Chicago Bulls ($2 billion), Boston Celtics ($1.7 billion) and Los Angeles Clippers ($1.6 billion). Forbes.com

The average NBA team is now worth $1.1 billion, 74% more than last year. It is the biggest one-year gain since Forbes began valuing teams in the four major U.S. sports leagues in 1998. Forbes.com

January 13, 2015 Updates

The feeling in the NBA is Prokhorov will ultimately unload his entire 80 percent of the Nets, despite the denials. But there won’t be much movement until the sale of the Hawks, who are at the stage of touring potential buyers for a 100 percent sale. Further predictions on Prokhorov’s timeline require cracking the mysteries of an unavailable owner. New York Daily News

There are certainly reasons Prokhorov would want to sell the Nets, aside from not having the time to enjoy them. According to Ukranian-born Marlen Kruzhkov, a New York-based attorney and advisor to Russian oligarchs, it is “well-known that Prokhorov has a large chunk of Western debt due in the near future.” There were also estimations, according to Kruzkhov, that the global economic drop of December prompted Prokhorov to lose $400 million in just one day. New York Daily News

By selling the Nets, he'd obtain much-needed cash from an asset valuated for over $1 billion. “The Ruble went down 45 percent in 2014,” Kruzhkov told the Daily News. “What that means is the cost of servicing debt just went up 45 percent. So you’re making your money in Rubles, but you’re paying your debt in dollars. You’re losing a lot of money in the transfer. That, coupled with the (U.S.) sanctions that have cut off a lot of banks from creditors in the West, it’s forcing people to re-think their position in terms of which businesses do I keep versus which businesses do I sacrifice." New York Daily News

“He’d want to make sure that his Western holdings are particularly secure and particularly healthy,” Kruzhkov said. “Regardless of their record and their salary cap, the Nets, from an investment standpoint, are a very healthy thing. The Nets are a phenomenal Western investment. You can borrow money against them. You have all sorts of possibilities. And it also gives him a real aura of legitimacy in the Western world.” New York Daily News

Chris Broussard: Nets are denying report that Mikhail Prokhorov has put the team up for sale. Quote from Nets ownership: "As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers – that’s just good business. There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team." I'm not reporting Nets not selling; I'm reporting Nets are DENYING report, specifically Brett Yormark, Barry Baum & GM Billy King. Twitter @Chris_Broussard

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