Chamath Palihapitiya: We flew to NY and approached Allen&Co to be our banker and broach a meeting with the then commissioner, David Stern. Specifically, we had our eye on the Sacramento Kings with the goal of moving them to either Seattle or Las Vegas. The meeting rolls around and Stern sits and listens patiently about our ideas and desire to buy the Kings. At the end of our monologue, he asks one simple question: “How much do you think the team is worth?” We answer and float an admittedly low number (less than $300M). He looks around, slams his fists on the table and says: “Then you’re in the wrong f***ing meeting!” My friend and I fly home dejected. I’m now all-in on venture capital with no diversification to speak of and 100% anxiety ridden.

Knicks, Warriors and Lakers each projected to be worth more than $5 billion

The average NBA franchise is worth nearly $2.4 billion, according to data compiled by Sportico. That is down 2% as a direct result of the pandemic, based on our modeling. Collectively, the fair-market value of the NBA’s 30 teams, including ownership’s stakes in real estate, regional sports networks and additional team-related holdings, is more than $71 billion. Three franchises—the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers—are each worth more than $5 billion. (For context, each of those teams has a greater fair-market value than any National Football League team except for the Dallas Cowboys, based on Sportico‘s assessment of football team valuations last August.)
To be sure, the cumulative revenue for the NBA’s 30 teams, $8.3 billion, was down from the previous, non-COVID-impacted season by nearly 10%. However, a closer look reveals that national revenues (accrued predominantly from the league’s broadcast and sponsorship deals, as well as its licensing program) dipped only 2%. That, in large measure, is because of the NBA’s audacious plan to salvage the season with a playoff bubble at Orlando’s Walt Disney World. In a disrupted COVID environment, such single- and low double-digit declines represent remarkable stability.