It should come as no surprise to fans of the NBA that the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most valuable franchises in the league. Although the bottom-feeding New York Knicks, who at $4.6 billion, remain on top due to their market and historic nature, the Lakers come close to them when it comes to franchise value.
Now, with two of the biggest stars in the NBA, championship aspirations, and the most storied history in the NBA, the always valuable team is growing in value by the second.
A brief history of the Los Angeles Lakers
Aside from maybe the New York Yankees in baseball, fans would be hard-pressed to find a team with a more storied history than the Los Angeles Lakers. Starting as the Detroit Gems in 1946, the team took on its current name after moving to “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” in Minnesota. The team would win four out of the first five NBA titles but move to Los Angeles in 1960 after attendance fell.
Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers have taken on a giant persona that matches their Hollywood-adjacent setting. Several of the biggest names of the last 60 years have played as Lakers at some point, from the obvious LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the less obvious Wilt Chamberlain, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone.
Being a Laker is being part of something bigger than just a basketball team. It is part of an international brand. Although the team does not stand first in terms of rings — that honor lies with the Boston Celtics — the team sees itself as the center of the NBA and demands treatment as such. This is why, even though the team struggled to win any games, it still got LeBron James to leave his home state and join the historical team.
With such a rich history, it makes sense that the team makes owners rich, as well.
Who owns the team?
The Lakers are a family affair, although that dynamic can be quite dysfunctional. Purchased in 1979 by Jerry Buss, a self-made real estate mogul and businessman who overcame poverty and became a billionaire, the team immediately regained its status as one of the best in basketball thanks to Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and the rest of the Showtime Lakers.
Buss added to the showtime flare of Lakers games, introduced the famous Laker Girls, and spent top dollar to ensure that the team remained on top as often as possible. When Buss passed away in 2013, he left the family team in the hands of his six children, with control going to son Jim and daughter Jeanie. After a struggle between the two siblings, Jeanie remains the team’s majority owner,
After inheriting her father’s majority stake in the Lakers as well as his riches, Jeanie Buss is worth an estimated $500M, a similar number to her siblings.
What are the Los Angeles Lakers worth?
The Buss siblings have billions of dollars between them and a 66% stake in the franchise. Were the team put on the market today, the Buss family would likely be able to get upwards of $4 billion, although a bidding war could bring it even higher. The combination of James and Davis, the Lakers’ history, and a Los Angeles Market that is filled with deep pockets make the team a perennial cash cow.
The $4.4 billion Forbes valuation is no joke. The team’s sports operations are worth over $800 million, while the marketing side is worth almost three times that at $2.1 billion.
A $700 million stadium and $754 million brand make everything about the franchise lucrative. With James and Davis making nearly $400 million combined, the team is still in no danger of losing money any time soon, and if another ring can be added to the mix, the Lakers could leapfrog the Knicks and become the most valuable NBA franchise.