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NBA’s Most Overpaid Players 2019: Wiggins, Jabari And 8 Others Who Underperformed

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The NBA may be a star-driven league, but its financial structure ensures that building a roster requires more than identifying talent. It’s not just about finding the right player; it’s about finding the right player at the right price.

With team values continuing to climb, owners can afford to pay an underachieving player. The real pain is in the opportunity cost: What could you have gotten for that money instead? How else could you have beefed up your roster?

It’s no surprise, then, that teams continue to search for new inefficiencies and measures of value, in a statistical revolution.

As with any bet, though, occasionally you gamble and lose.

Here are some of this season’s big losses.

How We Determined Who’s ‘Overpaid’

The inventor of the methodology we’re using here is David Berri, a sports economist at Southern Utah University and a former Forbescontributor. The number-crunching involves a few thorny decisions, but the premise is beautifully straightforward.

Figure out what a player should be making. Compare that against what he is actually making. The difference between the numbers is the amount by which he’s overpaid (or underpaid). Rinse and repeat.

Berri’s big contribution is the method he devised to produce the first estimate—what a player should be making. We start with the fact that, under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, players as a group are guaranteed roughly 50% of basketball-related income. Because we don’t yet know the BRI figure for the 2018-19 season, we’ll use last season’s: BRI was $7.147 billion, and the players’ share was $3.645 billion, according to Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ.

If we assume that teams are paying players to win, we can divide the players’ income by the total number of regular-season games (1,230) to produce an estimate of the value of a win: $2.963 million. (Yes, for the purposes of this analysis, we’re ignoring the fact that teams sometimes may not want to win or may be paying players for a reason other than winning, like boosting ticket sales. We’re also ignoring playoff games in computing the value of a win because players are paid out of their salaries solely during the regular season.)

From there, if we multiply our win value by the number of wins a player produces, we arrive at that player’s value for the season—his “expected” salary.

We have many win estimates to choose from in this player analysis, but all of them have the same basic goal: boil down a number of statistics (like points, rebounds and turnovers) into one number to measure how many wins a player contributed to his team. All of these metrics have their strengths and weaknesses, so in this analysis, we will be taking the average of three win estimates to try to minimize the blindspots of any one of them. Our three inputs: Wins Produced, a metric created by Berri and listed at BoxScoreGeeks.com; a wins estimate based on the metric Value Over Replacement Player, which is calculated by Basketball-Reference.com and is itself based on the metric Box Plus/Minus; and Win Shares, another metric calculated by Basketball-Reference.

Of course, these metrics are limited by the inputs they’re using; if the metric doesn’t account for something that’s inherently hard to quantify—for instance, a player’s ability to man up on defense—then that metric won’t fully capture a player’s value. But while it’s easy to point out that problem, it’s not so easy to solve it. We’re left with an imperfect measure.

Because these metrics are assessing a player’s contributions relative to a theoretical replacement-level player, they can be negative—that would suggest the player is actually worse than a replacement the team could pluck out of, say, the G League. In our analysis, though, a negative win estimate would make the player’s expected salary a negative number, suggesting the player was actually paying the team to play. While many fans might take that deal, we’ve substituted in zeroes whenever a metric turns negative so the lowest an expected salary can go is $0.

For player salaries, we are using data from Spotrac. Importantly, we are using the player’s cap figure—which is what the team is actually paying him—rather than his base salary. In the vast majority of cases, those numbers are the same, but when they differ, the cap figure will provide a more accurate measure of value.

Who We Considered For The ‘Honor’

We could perform this analysis on all 530 players who appeared in an NBA game this season, but because players accumulate wins across games, our overpaid list would be dominated by players who barely saw the court, many of them because of injury. To avoid that, we added in minimum thresholds of 41 games and 500 minutes played. Those are fairly arbitrary numbers, but they do measure a large enough portion of the season that a player’s real value should start to come through.

We also excluded players whose contracts are governed by the rookie salary scale. That left us with 257 players to analyze.

We compiled the data. We crunched the numbers. These are the 10 players who appeared to be the most overpaid.

Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 3.
Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 3.YONG TECK LIM/GETTY IMAGES

10. Chris Paul

Point guard, Houston Rockets
  • Wins Estimate Average: 7.4 (6.5 VORP wins, 6.6 Win Shares, 9.1 Wins Produced)
  • Expected Salary: $21,906,447
  • Cap Figure: $35,654,150
  • Difference: $13,747,703

Paul is having a reasonably productive season—with 9.1 Wins Produced, he is tied for 45th in the league despite playing only 58 games—but his Win Shares and VORP wins figures are easily career lows and are noticeably down from the 10.2 and 11.6 he posted last year, when he also played 58 games. If he could stay healthy, this contract wouldn’t look so bad—he still has two years to go, plus a player option for 2021-22 at $44,211,146—but he’s missed 69 games across the last three seasons. Can the Rockets really count on having him for a full season?

Wesley Matthews of the Indiana Pacers in a game against the Denver Nuggets on March 24.
Wesley Matthews of the Indiana Pacers in a game against the Denver Nuggets on March 24.MICHAEL HICKEY/GETTY IMAGES

9. Wesley Matthews

Shooting guard, Indiana Pacers
  • Wins Estimate Average: 1.6 (0.8, 2.7, 1.4)
  • Expected Salary: $4,849,443
  • Cap Figure: $19,135,259
  • Difference: $14,285,816

Matthews’ current contract might not look so bad—he counts $512,746 against the Pacers’ cap—but that’s only because he was waived by the Knicks in February. For this analysis, we combined his two cap figures, as well as his on-court production across his three stops this season.

Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 26.
Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 26.JONATHAN BACHMAN/GETTY IMAGES

8. Kent Bazemore

Shooting guard, Atlanta Hawks
  • Wins Estimate Average: 0.5 (0, 0.7, 0.9)
  • Expected Salary: $1,580,267
  • Cap Figure: $18,089,887
  • Difference: $16,509,620

Bazemore hasn’t come close to living up to a deal he signed in 2016—the year the salary cap spiked and the value of contracts surged. Bazemore still has a player option for next season; count on him taking the $19,269,662.

Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Mavericks in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers in February.
Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 25.BRIAN ROTHMULLER/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

7. Tim Hardaway Jr.

Shooting guard, Dallas Mavericks
  • Wins Estimate Average: 0.7 (0, 1.8, 0.3)
  • Expected Salary: $2,074,100
  • Cap Figure: $19,200,127
  • Difference: $17,126,027

The Mavericks took on Hardaway’s pricey contract as a cost of acquiring Kristaps Porzingis. On top of his $17,325,000 base salary, he earned $1,875,127 when the Knicks dealt him as a result of a trade kicker.

Hardaway averaged a career-high 18.1 points this season, but he didn’t get there particularly efficiently, shooting .393 from the field and .340 from 3. With another year on the deal and a player option for 2020-21, he won’t be coming off Dallas’ books as soon as the team might like.

Allen Crabbe of the Brooklyn Nets in a game against the Denver Nuggets on November 9.
Allen Crabbe of the Brooklyn Nets in a game against the Denver Nuggets on November 9.MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGES

6. Allen Crabbe

Shooting guard, Brooklyn Nets
  • Wins Estimate Average: 0.3 (0, 0.8, 0.1)
  • Expected Salary: $888,900
  • Cap Figure: $18,500,000
  • Difference: $17,611,100

Crabbe’s contract is another from the fateful summer of 2016. He appeared in just 43 games this season because of injuries and had middling numbers when he did play, shooting an abominable .342 on 2-pointers. Coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, he seems likely to pick up his $18,500,000 option for next season.

Otto Porter Jr. of the Chicago Bulls in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 27.
Otto Porter Jr. of the Chicago Bulls in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 27.BRANDON DILL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

5. Otto Porter Jr.

Small forward, Chicago Bulls
  • Wins Estimate Average: 2.8 (2.7, 3.2, 2.5)
  • Expected Salary: $8,296,400
  • Cap Figure: $26,011,913
  • Difference: $17,715,513

Porter, whom the Bulls acquired from the Wizards in February, is a good player, shooting .429 on 4.3 3-point attempts a game over the last three seasons. But he is more of a complementary piece, not the No. 1 option his contract would suggest. With a player option for 2020-21, the Bulls may be paying him $55,739,813 over the next two years. (Then again, who else are they going to spend their money on?)

Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics in a game against the Washington Wizards on March 1.
Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics in a game against the Washington Wizards on March 1.MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES

4. Gordon Hayward

Small forward, Boston Celtics

  • Wins Estimate Average: 4.4 (3.2, 4.9, 5.1)
  • Expected Salary: $13,076,707
  • Cap Figure: $31,214,295
  • Difference: $18,137,588

Hayward is still scraping off the rust after returning this season from the leg injury he suffered in the 2017 season opener. If he can get back to the form he showed with the Jazz in 2016-17, this contract won’t be a problem. That season, he was worth 10.8 VORP wins, 10.4 Win Shares and 12.5 Wins Produced, for an average of 11.2. That translates to an expected salary of more than $33 million (using this season’s win value figure).

Jabari Parker of the Washington Wizards falling in a game against the Bulls on March 20.
Jabari Parker of the Washington Wizards falling in a game against the Chicago Bulls on March 20.JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

3. Jabari Parker

Power forward, Washington Wizards
  • Wins Estimate Average: 0.5 (0, 1.4, 0.2)
  • Expected Salary: $1,580,267
  • Cap Figure: $20,000,000
  • Difference: $18,419,733

Parker ended up on the Wizards in the big-money swap for Otto Porter Jr. Parker, though, performed little better than a replacement-level player this season. In a particularly bad sign, his Defensive Win Shares figure exceeded his Offensive Win Shares figure with both of his 2018-19 teams—and this is not a player known for lock-down defense. The Wizards hold a club option for next season that they will almost certainly decline.

Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings in a game against the Wizards on March 11.
Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings in a game against the Washington Wizards on March 11.ROB CARR/GETTY IMAGES

2. Harrison Barnes

Small forward, Sacramento Kings
  • Wins Estimate Average: 1.2 (0, 3.6, 0)
  • Expected Salary: $3,555,600
  • Cap Figure: $24,793,702
  • Difference: $21,238,102

Barnes is the fifth player on this list to have changed teams this season, joining the Kings from the Mavericks in a February trade that earned him a $686,444 kicker. His shooting percentages perked up after the move, and his Win Shares Per 48 Minutes figure rose to .084, from .059. But that won’t be enough to justify the $25,102,513 salary Sacramento will have to pay him next season if he exercises his player option. He would probably offer more value at power forward, but the Kings have a big-man logjam.

Andrew Wiggins looking to get past Portland Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman in December.
Andrew Wiggins looking to get past Portland Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman on December 8.STEVE DYKES/ASSOCIATED PRESS

1. Andrew Wiggins

Small forward, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Wins Estimate Average: 0.2 (0, 0.6, 0)
  • Expected Salary: $592,600
  • Cap Figure: $25,467,250
  • Difference: $24,874,650

Wiggins essentially played at a replacement level this season; his $592,600 expected salary is about $1 million lower than the minimum a player of his experience could have been paid. In fact, his VORP figure was -0.6, suggesting he actually cost his team about 1.6 wins relative to a replacement player. The really bad news: This was just the first year in a five-year extension, with his salary rising all the way to $33,616,770 for 2022-23.

-Brett Knight; Forbes Staff

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The Highest-Paid Tennis Players 2019: Roger Federer Scores A Record $93 Million

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Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are kicking off play at the U.S. Open as the three favorites to win the title and take home a Grand Slam-record $3.85 million payday as the singles champion. The Big Three are a good bet, having captured 53 out of 63 Slams since the start of 2004, including the last 11.

The on-court dominance has produced a combined $373 million in career prize money for the trio, light years ahead of their peers. But the money off the court is even sweeter for Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, to the tune of a cumulative $1.2 billion during their careers from endorsement partners and appearance fees.

Federer is the highest-paid tennis player for the 14th straight year, with $93.4 million from prize money, endorsements and appearance fees in the 12 months ending June 1. It is a record tally by a tennis player.

READ MORE | Inside Serena Williams’ Plan To Ace Venture Investing

His sponsor portfolio is unmatched in sports, with a dozen partners together paying him more than $60 million a year, well ahead of other global sports icons like Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Credit Federer’s long run at the top—his Slam titles span 15 years—and the strong demographics of tennis fans, who spend heavily on equipment, apparel, cars, watches and financial services. The global nature of the sport also allows brands to use the players in marketing around the world.

Federer turned 38 this month, and Father Time will catch up at some point, but Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo is betting $300 million that Federer will continue to resonate with fans long after he hangs up his racket.

READ MORE | Business Is Booming For Tennis Ace Naomi Osaka, On Track To Be The Highest-Paid Female Athlete

After two decades with Nike, Federer signed a ten-year deal with Uniqlo last year that is guaranteed whether he is playing or not. In the coming months, Federer will also likely take back control of his RF logo, which stayed with Nike after their split.

After a two-year Slam drought, Djokovic has roared back to capture four of the past five majors. The titles helped push his 12-month earnings to $50.6 million, including $30 million off the court from appearances and sponsors Lacoste, Head, Asics, Seiko, NetJets and Ultimate Software. He ranks as the second-highest-paid tennis player.

Rounding out the top five players are Kei Nishikori ($37.3 million), Nadal ($35 million) and Serena Williams ($29.2 million).

Tennis is the only major sport in which women and men are in the same zip code in terms of earnings. The U.S. Open was the first Slam to offer equal payouts for the men’s and women’s events, and now each of the four Slams has equal pay. While Williams was the only woman to crack Forbes‘ 100 highest-paid athletes this year, the top ten earners in tennis are split evenly between men and women.

The top ten collectively made $312 million, up 23% from last year, fueled by huge gains by Federer, Djokovic and Naomi Osaka. See the full top ten below.

10. Sloane Stephens

Mutua Madrid Open Masters v day 7
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Total earnings: $9.6 million

Prize money: $4.1 million

Endorsements: $5.5 million

The 2017 U.S. Open champion returns to Flushing Meadows this year wearing a tennis shoe based on the “Aqua” colorway of Nike’s retro Air Jordan VIII. Her Nike pact, which began last year, is one of the biggest in the sport. Stephens recently announced her engagement to soccer star Jozy Altidore.

9. Simona Halep

The Championships - Wimbledon 2019
CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Total earnings: $10.2 million

Prize money: $6.2 million

Endorsements: $4 million

Halep has won only one event in 2019, but it was a big one: Wimbledon, and its $3 million payday, her second career Grand Slam title. The Romanian pro counts Nike, Wilson, Mercedes-Benz and Hublot among her sponsors.

8. Angelique Kerber

Nature Valley International - Day Four
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Total earnings: $11.3 million

Prize money: $5.3 million

Endorsements: $6 million

Kerber triggered lucrative bonuses from sponsors, namely Adidas, with her 2018 Wimbledon title and year-end rank of second in the world. In addition to Adidas, the German pro has also renewed deals with SAP, Generali and NetJets since Wimbleon and recently inked a new pact with Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders brand. Other endorsements include Yonex, Porsche, Rolex and Lavazza.

7. Alexander Zverev

Rogers Cup Montreal - Day 8
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Total earnings: $11.8 million

Prize money: $6.3 million

Endorsements: $5.5 million

The 22-year-old German is a rising star on the ATP Tour and has 11 career titles, including the 2018 year-end ATP Finals, which was worth $2.5 million in prize money. He has a large deal with Adidas, in addition to endorsements with Head, Peugeot, Richard Mille and Zegna.

6. Naomi Osaka

Western & Southern Open - Day 5
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Total earnings: $24.3 million

Prize money: $8.3 million

Endorsements: $16 million

Osaka will see her endorsement number soar even higher, having signed a series of deals since her 2018 U.S. Open win. The biggest is with Nike, which was inked just ahead of our June 1 cutoff and is worth an estimated $10 million annually. She also recently added a series of endorsement partners—Hyperice, BodyArmor and Muzik—where she received equity stakes in the businesses.

5. Serena Williams

Rogers Cup Toronto - Day 6
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Total earnings: $29.2 million

Prize money: $4.2 million

Endorsements: $25 million

The world’s highest-paid female athlete four years running had a record year off the court after her return to tennis following the birth of daughter Olympia. She added deals with Pampers, Axa Financial and General Mills to her roster. Williams’ next act is tackling venture investing, focused largely on companies led by women or people of color.

4. Rafael Nadal

Rogers Cup Montreal - Day 10
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Total earnings: $35 million

Prize money: $9 million

Endorsements: $26 million

The Spaniard is one of the biggest draws in tennis and can command appearance fees of more than $1 million a pop. His primary sponsors include Nike, Babolat, Kia Motors, Telefónica, Richard Mille and Mapfre.

3. Kei Nishikori

TENNIS: AUG 07 Coupe Rogers
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Total earnings: $37.3 million

Prize money: $4.3 million

Endorsements: $33 million

Nishikori and Zverev are the only non-Slam winners among the ten highest-paid tennis players. But Nishikori’s robust endorsement portfolio is fueled by his status as the most successful Japanese player ever. He is set to be one of the faces of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. His sponsors Asahi, NTT, Japan Airlines, Lixil, Procter & Gamble and Nissin are all official Olympics partners.

2. Novak Djokovic

Western & Southern Open - Day 6
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Total earnings: $50.6 million

Prize money: $20.6 million

Endorsements: $30 million

There have been ten tennis seasons in which a player won more than $12 million in prize money. Djokovic owns seven of those years. His $135 million in career prize money has him $9 million ahead of Federer. Djokovic’s Lacoste endorsement is one of the richest deals in the sport.

1. Roger Federer

Day Eleven: The Championships - Wimbledon 2019
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Total earnings: $93.4 million

Prize money: $7.4 million

Endorsements: $86 million

In addition to his blockbuster Uniqlo pact, Federer added a multimillion-dollar deal with Rimowa last year. The luggage brand joined Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Moet & Chandon, Barilla and others in Fed’s endorsement stable.

-Kurt Badenhausen; Forbes

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Grass Gets Greener For Young South African Golfing Wonder

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Seven-year-old Simthandile ‘Sim Tiger’ Tshabalala already has the golfing world at his feet.


South African golf legend Gary Player believes the country has the potential to produce the next Tiger Woods, a superstar with charisma and global appeal that will win major titles and become a role model to millions around the world.

Player told FORBES AFRICA late last year he was “convinced there is a black girl or boy in South Africa today with tremendous athletic prowess, and with the talent to be a champion”.

Player’s prophecy could come true sooner than, perhaps even, he expects, with the emergence of seven-year-old Simthandile ‘Sim Tiger’ Tshabalala, a youngster that has shown such outstanding talent on the golf course that the world has sat up to take notice.

READ MORE | Grass Is Greener In Soweto For Golf Legend Gary Player

Tshabalala, who learned the game from YouTube videos and has only been professionally coached for the last few years, has already played at the Australian Open, where he came fourth, has played in Malaysia and Scotland, and won the local US Kids Tour this year.

He will soon be jetting off to the United States, England and Canada for more events in the coming month, fueling his passion to one day emulate, and then surpass, his hero.

“It’s going very well, it’s very exciting for me,” Tshabalala tells FORBES AFRICA. “I really look up to Tiger Woods, he was number one in the world for so long.

Seven-year-old Simthandile ‘Sim Tiger’ Tshabalala. Picture Supplied

“He won so many tournaments and, just like me, he started playing at such a young age. He carried that through to his adult life and became a legend.”

The way Tshabalala talks; he is seven going on 17, such is the maturity with which he answers questions.

Clearly, an exceptionally talented, and level-headed child, he has the golfing world at his feet.

His father, Bonginkosi Tshabalala, admits his son’s success has taken him rather by surprise, but he is determined to make sure all avenues are open for the youngster.

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“I grew up with an absent father, with no male guidance or exposure to many things, so it’s very important for me to be able to provide this platform for Sim. I want him to have a better life than me,” Tshabalala senior says.

The young Sim tried just about every sport going, but none stuck until he picked up a golf club.

“From the age of two, we have tried all sports – tennis, swimming, cricket, soccer and finally golf,” his father says.

“I must admit I did not even know what a golf course looked like.

Seven-year-old Simthandile ‘Sim Tiger’ Tshabalala holds the South African flag up high. Picture: Supplied

“I had no clue about the rules of the game, but I thought I had to teach myself first, then I could pass that on to Sim.

“So I bought some clubs, and the two of us would sit and watch YouTube videos with coaching tips and the like, trying to learn the game.

“We had been going to the driving range together and he was really enjoying it, so I decided to get him formal coaching.”

But Tshabalala senior, who is also his son’s caddy, says it is not enough and they put in hours and hours of practice together each week.

“If you give him a fork to eat with, he will use it to practise his swing. The first thing he does in the morning when he gets out of bed is practice his swing. He is amazingly committed to the game.”

Seven-year-old Simthandile ‘Sim Tiger’ Tshabalala on the gold course. Picture: Supplied

Such is his promise that ‘Sim Tiger’ has already secured a sponsorship from top global golf equipment manufacturer, TaylorMade, but for the rest, his increasingly expensive career is being funded by his father.

“We will be at the World Championships in North Carolina from August 1 to 3. Then we travel to England for the British Kids Championship on August 8 and 9, and from there, we play the 2019 Canadian Invitational on August 12 to 13.

“It is obviously very expensive, and we are looking for sponsorship, but at the same time, it is an amazing experience.

“When we went to Malaysia, it was the first time, I had never been outside of South Africa, so we have grown together as a family.”

READ MORE | World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2019: What Messi, LeBron And Tiger Make

For Tshabalala senior, this journey is much more than golf and travel, it is a chance for him to spend time with his son, perhaps healing some of those old wounds that linger from his father not providing him with the same support.

“Whatever happens in the future, it has brought us closer, and hopefully, he has learned some life lessons along the way,” he says.

Seven-year-old Simthandile ‘Sim Tiger’ Tshabalala. Picture: Supplied

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The World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams 2019

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The Dallas Cowboys kick off training camp this weekend as the defending NFC East champions. Last season ended with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, which marked 23 straight years the Cowboys were shut out of the NFC Championship game. Only the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions have longer title-game droughts.

But America’s Team remains the biggest must-see show in sports. Nine of the 50 highest-rated sports TV broadcasts in 2018 were regular season Cowboys games, helping goose ratings for CBS, NBC and Fox (the Patriots were the only other team with more than four games among the top 50).

Cowboys fever helps owner Jerry Jones generate an estimated $340 million in sponsorship and premium seating revenue at AT&T Stadium, twice as much as any other team.

While Jones’ team has come up short on the field the past 20-plus years, the Cowboys are the world’s most valuable sports franchise for the fourth-straight year at $5 billion. Jones has capitalized on the insatiable appetite for all things Cowboys.

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“On and off the field, in season and out of season, there is a small soap opera going on every day,” Jones told my colleague Mike Ozanian last fall during a taping of ForbesSportsMoney on the YES Network. “Everyone knows that marketing, especially in this day and time, is just another way to promote the circus, so to speak.”

Jones has always been a visionary since he bought the Cowboys for $150 million 30 years ago. He revolutionized stadium sponsorships; broke away from the NFL’s shared merchandise revenue system; launched a stadium-management firm, Legends Hospitality, with the New York Yankees; and opened a $1.5 billion practice facility in 2017.

The New England Patriots' Tom Brady
The New England Patriots’ Tom Brady MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES

The result: Dallas sits atop the globe’s richest sports league with profits, in the sense of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, of $365 million in 2017, a record for any sports team.

The cutoff to rank among the world’s 50 most valuable sports teams is $2.075 billion, up $125 million from last year and $1.2 billion from five years ago. The values of sports teams have skyrocketed on the backs of ballooning media rights deals and more owner-friendly collective bargaining agreements that restrain player costs. There are 52 teams across all sports worth at least $2 billion, up from one, Manchester United, in 2012.

The NFL is still the most dominant sports league when it comes to the worth of its franchises. More than half of the top 50 are football squads. Credit the monster media-rights deals with the likes of CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and DirecTV that paid out more than $260 million per team last year. The TV haul is a nice cushion to easily cover teams’ biggest expense item, player costs, before any tickets, sponsorships, beer or replica jerseys are sold. The cap on player salaries was $177 million last season (each team is also on the hook for $40 million annually in player benefit costs).

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The New York Yankees moved up three spots to just behind the Cowboys with a value of $4.6 billion, up 15%. The Bronx Bombers head seven MLB teams that made the top 50. The Yankees are surging on and off the field. They own the best record in the American League this season, after posting 100 wins last year. Attendance at Yankee Stadium jumped 10% last year to 3.5 million fans, the highest for the club since 2012. Viewership of Yankees games on the YES Network was 57% higher than any other baseball franchise in 2018.

Real Madrid ranks third at $4.2 billion and highest among the eight soccer clubs in the top 50. The La Liga club was the last sports team deemed the world’s most valuable before the Cowboys secured the title starting in 2016. Real banked more than $100 million for winning its second-straight Champions League crown last year.

Don’t look for Real Madrid to set any records with regard to the richest sports team sale, currently $2.3 billion for the sales of the Carolina Panthers in 2018 and the Brooklyn Nets in 2019. Real is owned by its more than 90,000 members, who elect a club president. It’s a similar structure at rival Barcelona, which ranks fourth overall with a value of $4.02 billion.

The Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry
The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen CurryGREGORY SHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES

NBA teams have made the most dramatic moves this decade. The New York Knicks headline nine hoops teams in the top 50 this year. Their $4 billion value, up 11%, ranks fifth among all sports teams. The Los Angeles Lakers ($3.7 billion) and Golden State Warriors ($3.5 billion) also cracked the top 10. In 2012, the Lakers were the most valuable NBA team at $900 million and ranked 35th out of all sports franchises. The Knicks were the only other NBA team in the top 50 in 2012.

Three NBA franchises have been sold for at least $2 billion since 2014 (Nets, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers). The prior NBA-record sale price was $550 million for the Milwaukee Bucks, which closed three months before Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion blockbuster purchase of the Clippers.

READ MORE | The 10 Most Notable New Billionaires Of 2019

Investors salivate at the NBA’s international prospects, with 300 million basketball players in China and annual revenue growing outside the U.S. at a rate in the high teens. The 2016 CBA locked in player costs at 50% of the league’s surging revenue, and league-wide profits are up tenfold over the past seven years by Forbes’ count.

The world’s richest sports teams are almost all swimming in cash these days. Barcelona, which lost $37 million due to excessive player costs, was the only top-50 team to post a loss on an operating basis, and every other team turned a profit of at least $25 million. More than half of the teams made more than $100 million, led by the Cowboys at $365 million.

The franchise values below are based on Forbes’ published valuations over the past 12 months. Team values reflect enterprise values (equity plus debt). No teams from the NHL, Nascar, MLS or Formula One made the top 50. The highest-ranking franchise outside of the NBA, NFL, MLB and European soccer was the New York Rangers at 72nd with a value of $1.55 billion.

Gridiron Rules

The NFL remains the most dominant sports leagues with more than half of the 50 most valuable sports franchises, but the other major sports chipped away at its dominance during the past year.

More Than a Game

The discount bin is empty when shopping for teams in the major sports leagues. Every NFL, NBA and MLB franchise is now worth at least $1 billion.

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Trophy Assets

Manchester United was the world’s only pro sports team worth more than $2 billion in 2012. Now there are at least 50, including almost every NFL team.

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The World's 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams
RICH SCHULTZ/GETTY IMAGES, ADAM GLANZMAN/MLB VIA GETTY IMAGES, BOB LEVEY/GETTY IMAGES

50 New Orleans Saints (NFL)

  • Value: $2.08 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 4%
  • Owner: Gayle Benson
  • Operating Income*: $115 million

49 | Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL)

  • Value: $2.08 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: Shahid Khan
  • Operating Income: $63 million

47 (tie) | Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)

  • Value: $2.1 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owners: Lamar Hunt Family
  • Operating Income: $60 million

47 (tie) | St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

  • Value: $2.1 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 11%
  • Owner: William DeWitt Jr.
  • Operating Income: $65 million

46 | Arizona Cardinals (NFL)

  • Value: $2.15 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: Wiliam Bidwill
  • Operating Income: $74 million

45 | Liverpool (Soccer)

  • Value: $2.18 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 12%
  • Owners: John Henry, Tom Werner
  • Operating Income: $128 million

44 | Los Angeles Clippers (NBA)

  • Value: $2.2 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 2%
  • Owner: Steve Ballmer
  • Operating Income: $40 million

43 | Dallas Mavericks (NBA)

  • Value: $2.25 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 18%
  • Owner: Mark Cuban
  • Operating Income: $99 million

42 | Arsenal (Soccer)

  • Value: $2.27 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 1%
  • Owner: Stanley Kroenke
  • Operating Income: $102 million

41 | Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)

  • Value: $2.28 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owners: Spanos Family
  • Operating Income: $48 million

38 (tie) | New York Mets (MLB)

  • Value: $2.3 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 10%
  • Owners: Fred & Jeff Wilpon, Saul Katz
  • Operating Income: $30 million

38 (tie) | Carolina Panthers (NFL)

  • Value: $2.3 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: David Tepper
  • Operating Income: $62 million

38 (tie)| Houston Rockets (NBA)

  • Value: $2.3 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 5%
  • Owner: Tilman Fertitta
  • Operating Income: $103 million

37 | Brooklyn Nets (NBA)

  • Value: $2.35 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 2%
  • Owners: Mikhail Prokhorov, Joe Tsai
  • Operating Income: $53 million

36 | Indianapolis Colts (NFL)

  • Value: $2.38 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: James Irsay
  • Operating Income: $67 million

35 | Minnesota Vikings (NFL)

  • Value: $2.4 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: Zygmunt Wilf
  • Operating Income: $90 million

34 | Oakland Raiders (NFL)

  • Value: $2.42 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 2%
  • Owner: Mark Davis
  • Operating Income: $25 million

33 | Miami Dolphins (NFL)

  • Value: $2.58 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: Stephen Ross
  • Operating Income: $56 million

32 | Chelsea (Soccer)

  • Value: $2.58 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 25%
  • Owner: Roman Abramovich
  • Operating Income: $127 million

31 | Seattle Seahawks (NFL)

  • Value: $2.58 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 6%
  • Owners: Pat Allen Trust
  • Operating Income: $71 million

30 | Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL)

  • Value: $2.59 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 5%
  • Owners: Daniel Rooney Trust, Art Rooney II
  • Operating Income: $85 million

29 | Baltimore Ravens (NFL)

  • Value: $2.59 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 4%
  • Owner: Stephen Bisciotti
  • Operating Income: $107 million

28 | Atlanta Falcons (NFL)

  • Value: $2.6 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 5%
  • Owner: Arthur Blank
  • Operating Income: $113 million

27 | Green Bay Packers (NFL)

  • Value: $2.63 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 3%
  • Owners: shareholder-owned
  • Operating Income: $62 million

26 | Denver Broncos (NFL)

  • Value: $2.65 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 2%
  • Owners: Pat Bowlen Trust
  • Operating Income: $106 million

25 | Manchester City (Soccer)

  • Value: $2.69 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 9%
  • Owner: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  • Operating Income: $168 million

24 | Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)

  • Value: $2.75 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 4%
  • Owners: Jeffrey Lurie
  • Operating Income: $114 million

22 (tie)| Boston Celtics (NBA)

  • Value: $2.8 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 12%
  • Owners: Wycliffe & Irving Grousbeck, Robert Epstein, Stephen Pagliuca
  • Operating Income: $100 million

22 (tie)| Houston Texans (NFL)

  • Value: $2.8 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: Robert McNair
  • Operating Income: $161 million

21 | New York Jets (NFL)

  • Value: $2.85 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 4%
  • Owner: Robert Wood Johnson IV
  • Operating Income: $130 million

19 (tie) | Chicago Bears (NFL)

  • Value: $2.9 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 2%
  • Owners: McCaskey family
  • Operating Income: $100 million

19 (tie) | Chicago Bulls (NBA)

  • Value: $2.9 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 12%
  • Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf
  • Operating Income: $115 million

18 | San Francisco Giants (MLB)

  • Value: $3 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 5%
  • Owner: Charles Johnson
  • Operating Income: $84 million

17 | Bayern Munich (Soccer)

  • Value: $3.02 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: -1%
  • Owners: Club members
  • Operating Income: $129 million

16 | San Francisco 49ers (NFL)

  • Value: $3.05 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owners: Denise DeBartolo York, John York
  • Operating Income: $106 million

14 (tie) | Chicago Cubs (MLB)

  • Value: $3.1 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 7%
  • Owners: Ricketts family
  • Operating Income: $87 million

14 (tie) | Washington Redskins (NFL)

  • Value: $3.1 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owner: Daniel Snyder
  • Operating Income: $122 million

12 (tie) | Los Angeles Rams (NFL)

  • Value: $3.2 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 7%
  • Owner: Stanley Kroenke
  • Operating Income: $68 million

12 (tie) | Boston Red Sox (MLB)

  • Value: $3.2 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 14%
  • Owners: John Henry, Thomas Werner
  • Operating Income: $84 million

10 (tie) | Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)

  • Value: $3.3 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 10%
  • Owners: Guggenheim Baseball Management
  • Operating Income: $95 million

10 (tie) | New York Giants (NFL)

  • Value: $3.3 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 0%
  • Owners: John Mara, Steven Tisch
  • Operating Income: $149 million

9 | Golden State Warriors (NBA)

  • Value: $3.5 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 13%
  • Owners: Joe Lacob, Peter Guber
  • Operating Income: $103 million

| Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)

  • Value: $3.7 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 12%
  • Owners: Jerry Buss Family Trusts, Philip Anschutz
  • Operating Income: $147 million

7 | New England Patriots (NFL)

  • Value: $3.8 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 3%
  • Owner: Robert Kraft
  • Operating Income: $235 million

| Manchester United (Soccer)

  • Value: $3.81 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: -8%
  • Owners: Glazer family
  • Operating Income: $238 million

5 | New York Knicks (NBA)

  • Value: $4 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 11%
  • Owner: Madison Square Garden Company
  • Operating Income: $155 million

| Barcelona (Soccer)

  • Value: $4.02 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: -1%
  • Owners: Club members
  • Operating Income: –$37 million

| Real Madrid (Soccer)

  • Value: $4.24 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 4%
  • Owners: Club members
  • Operating Income: $112 million

| New York Yankees (MLB)

  • Value: $4.6 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 15%
  • Owners: Steinbrenner family
  • Operating Income: $30 million

| Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

  • Value: $5 billion
  • 1-Year % Change: 4%
  • Owner: Jerry Jones
  • Operating Income: $365 million

Forbes; Kurt Badenhausen

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