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Lakers Are the Champions in Value Too

January 18, 2002|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In these days of stock market turbulence and poor-performing portfolios, Laker owner Jerry Buss had to be happy with a piece of economic news Thursday.

The Lakers were rated the most valuable NBA franchise, worth $403 million, according to Forbes magazine.

The Lakers' value increased 12% in one year, moving them ahead of the New York Knicks ($392 million) primarily because of additional revenue from eight home playoff games while winning the NBA title.

Buss purchased the Lakers, Kings, the Forum and a ranch in Kern County for $67.5 million in 1979. The Lakers at the time were valued at about $20 million.

With the buy-low, sell-high principle in mind, a couple Lakers offered financial advice to Buss.

"It'd be hard to let go of a franchise with so much history, but there's always that business side of it," Samaki Walker said. "I think if it's me, it'd be sold."

Robert Horry was more bullish.

"Not now because we're winning," he said. "Win one more championship and then he can get out for about $600 million."

The Clippers were 24th among 29 NBA teams with a value of $170 million.

The value marked an increase of 10% from a year ago, but the Clippers were called "third-class tenants in Staples Center" by Forbes.

The Clippers had the lowest player expenses in the NBA, only $32.6 million, and were more than doubled by the Lakers in annual revenue despite sharing the same arena. The Lakers had revenues of $144 million while the Clippers had $68 million for the 2000-01 season.

The magazine said five teams lost value from a year ago. New Jersey ($169 million) and Charlotte ($135 million) each dropped 6% from last year, while New York (down 1% to $392 million), Detroit (down 2% to $230 million) and Golden State (down 1% to $166 million) also lost value, Forbes said.

Memphis, which moved from Vancouver, had the largest gain in value to $160 million, an increase of 36% from a year ago..

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