If only dollars equated to wins, this would be a golden age for New York basketball. But that's always been Donnie Walsh's goal.
And in the year Walsh got the Knicks under the salary cap for the first time in 14 years, Knicks regained it's position as the NBA's most valuable franchise in 2010, according to Forbes.com.
The Knicks were valued at $655 million, which is by far the highest of any NBA team. The Lakers, who were No. 1 last year, saw their value increase six percent from $607M in 2009 to $643M in 2010.
The Lakers, after winning their first championship since 2002, ended a four year run by the Knicks as the highest valued NBA franchise. The Knicks held the top spot from 2005-2008, as their value increase from $543M in 2005 to $613M in 2008 before it dropped to $586M in '09 to fall behind the Lakers. Obviously anticipation of the 2010 Free Agency sweepstakes -- and the arrival of Amar'e Stoudemire -- helped the Knicks pick up major corporate sponsors and sell out their season tickets for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
It would be interesting to see what LeBron James could have done to the value of this franchise. Is it outrageous to think with LeBron and Amar'e the Knicks could have come near the $1 billion mark? Only the Yankees and 19 NFL teams -- including the Giants and Jets -- have reached that plateau among U.S.-based sports franchises.
The addition of another star, perhaps Carmelo Anthony, could provide another spike for 2011. A playoff appearance wouldn't hurt either. The more success the team has, the more demand for corporate sponsorships. And, yes, higher ticket prices. That $800 million MSG transformation is privately funded, but obviously that's an investment.
Aside from the teams in the biggest markets thriving, the NBA heads into collective bargaining crying poverty while Forbes says the league's franchises have increased in value by one percent. The average team is now worth $369M, but it should be noted, as Forbes does, that the league has still yet to climb back to its peak value in 2008, when the average value of an NBA team was $379M.
As for the actual LeBron Effect: The value of the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped a devastating 26 percent to $355M, which ranked 15th. The Heat skyrocketed 17 percent to $425M, which moved them into seventh.