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LAKERS FYI

Lakers become the most NBA valuable franchise

They surpass the Knicks in Forbes magazine rankings and are also the most profitable.

December 10, 2009|By Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers' victories keep coming from last season.

In addition to winning the NBA championship, the Lakers were the league's most valuable franchise, overtaking the New York Knicks after years of finishing second to them, according to Forbes magazine.

The Lakers took over the NBA's top spot with a franchise value of $607 million, up 4% from the previous season, according to the magazine's financial analysis of the 2008-09 season. The Knicks are valued at $586 million, a 4% drop.

The Chicago Bulls ($511 million), Detroit Pistons ($479 million) and Cleveland Cavaliers ($476 million) were the next three teams.

The Lakers were also the most profitable team in 2008-09, making $51.1 million on $209 million in revenues.

"We're very happy with the way business is going," said Tim Harris, senior vice president of business operations for the Lakers. "We renewed season-ticket holders at 98%, sponsorship revenue is up, and the team's obviously playing well right now."

The Milwaukee Bucks were the least valuable team, with a franchise valuation of $254 million. The Clippers were worth $295 million, 23rd in the league.

Franchise values were down an average of 3% because of declining revenues among several teams. Not that the Lakers have anything to concern them.

"Owners looking for a blueprint to follow have several to choose from. Start with the Los Angeles Lakers . . . " said an accompanying Forbes article. "Owners Jerry Buss and Philip Anschutz keep the Staples Center packed with concerts and other sporting events. Anschutz has also developed the land surrounding the arena, which keeps business humming year round. It helps to have Kobe Bryant and a winning team when you charge $2,600 per game for a courtside seat and $107,500 for a courtside season ticket."

The Lakers' profits undoubtedly will shrink because of the $112.7 million they're shelling out in payroll and luxury taxes this season. They paid only $85.4 million in salary and luxury taxes last season.

Use the force

Injured Lakers forward Luke Walton said he wouldn't mince words while filling in for Mychal Thompson as the Lakers' radio color commentator the next two games.

"I speak my mind to them all the time in practice, so I'm going to go out and have a good time," Walton said.

Thompson will be in the Bahamas this weekend to attend the funeral of his mother. Walton will team with radio play-by-play announcer Spero Dedes for Friday's game against Minnesota and Saturday's game at Utah.

Walton consulted with his father, Bill, a longtime TV analyst who recently retired because of constant back pain.

"He said, 'Go talk to Spero and do whatever Spero tells you to do and it'll be a good time,' " Walton said.

Walton won't be criticizing one person in particular: Coach Phil Jackson.

"I'm going to say he's the greatest, smartest coach of all time," Walton said, smiling.

Walton has missed 11 games because of a pinched nerve in his back, but hopes to play again in a "couple more weeks."

"I've been working out a few hours a day . . ." he said. "Every day we do more and more."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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