Big Market NBA Teams Boast Big Market Ticket Prices

Most Expensive NBA Teams (infographic)The cost of attending an NBA game is rising. The most expensive tickets in the NBA are for games with big market teams. The Top 5 most expensive teams in the league have not changed much since last year despite major changes in major markets (the return of Rose, the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Nets roster, and the absence of Kobe at the start of the season). While prices have moved up and down for each team since the 2012-13 season, the leaders of the pack are essentially the same. Unlike baseball this year, where we saw small market teams have success, the teams that dish out the most money in the NBA typically get the best product and can charge big bucks from the fans. The wealthy owners of big market teams can afford the marquee players and their fans are the ones that can “afford” the priciest tickets.

The new luxury tax agreement was supposed to change this; but entering year three, 6 NBA teams are currently over the tax threshold. Which means despite the hefty tax they’ll fork over, they’re still signing and retaining big-time players. Similar to a Blockbuster movie, the NBA has several “Hollywood” teams that win big and always have big-name flashy players. Big market teams play in famous arenas, have rich basketball traditions, and showcase Championship-caliber lineups. They attract celebrities, sponsors, huge TV contracts, and fans. The luxury tax can keep going up, but there will always be owners in the major markets who can get away with paying the price for luxury by convincing their fan base to split the bill.

The good news for fans of big-market teams is that, typically, these powerhouses have more tickets available on the secondary market than small-market teams. That is, if you’re willing to pay. Some critics might conclude that large market teams do not have the same loyal fan bases that small-market teams do; others chalk it up as season ticket holders trying to earn back some of their money that they spent on a seat by listing their tickets to a couple of hard-to-make games. Perhaps the best theory, is that the answer lies somewhere in between.

Most Inventory Listed on Secondary Market: 2012-13 Season

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  2. New York Knicks
  3. Brooklyn Nets
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Boston Celtics

Most Inventory Listed on Secondary Market: 2013-14 Season

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. New York Knicks
  3. Brooklyn Nets
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Los Angeles Clippers
  6. Golden State Warriors
  7. Los Angeles Lakers
  8. San Antonio Spurs
  9. Miami Heat
  10. Chicago Bulls 

New York Knicks

The City of New York is notoriously famous for being expensive in general and also famous for their love of basketball. The current Knicks roster claims last year’s NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony, former All-NBA First Teamer Amar’e Stoudemire, NBA Champion and USA Basketball staple Tyson Chandler, and recently acquired Metta World Peace. The star-studded lineup plays in historic Madison Square Garden which has been called the mecca of basketball. In spite of the high-priced tickets, fans are willing to pay to see the Eastern Conference title contenders. The Knicks are the top-selling team entering the 2013-14 season. For anyone questioning NYC’s love affair with basketball we should also mention that the neighboring Brooklyn Nets, who added to their marketability this off-season with the addition of 3 veteran players from the Boston Celtics, come in at sixth highest in the NBA and second best in number of ticket sales.

Top Selling NBA Teams (infographic)Los Angeles Lakers

The Knicks and Lakers not only have the most expensive tickets in the league, but the two teams also top Forbes annual list of NBA’s most valuable franchises in 2013. Each is worth more than $1 billion. However, unlike the Knicks, the Lakers saw a drop in average price since last season. They were one of only three teams in the NBA to see a fall and we suspect Kobe Bryant’s injury is largely the reason. The price of Lakers tickets are down just $18, but LA did take a back seat to the Knicks who now boast the most expensive ticket. Despite the fall, the Lakers remain in the Top 5. The beloved Kobe will be back, there is still plenty of talent on the roster, and they signed a couple of hometown products Nick Young and Jordan Farmar (previously a fan favorite with the Lakers a few years back). Most importantly, LA fans are reminded by the 16 Championship banners inside Staples Center each game night as to just how much history this franchise has. Their history is so daunting that Clippers new head coach Doc Rivers has asked that the banners not hang during Clippers home games. The Lakers are arguably the greatest NBA franchise of all time with legends like Magic, Kareem, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and of course the one fans still stream in to the area to see – Kobe Bryant.

Miami Heat


The Heat’s success has primarily come in the last decade. They have brought home three championships in the last eight seasons, and back-to-back titles in the previous two. The hike in prices is due to recent success as opposed to tradition. But, the large market and a super-talented roster, which includes the NBA’s best player LeBron James, has allowed the Heat to raise their ticket prices in recent years. OKC has seen similar success within their organization, but their prices remain affordable for their demographic. The Big 3 draw big numbers, evident by the high price of home and away Heat tickets this year. A potential three-peat for LeBron, 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, Bosh, and crew has prices up an average of $100 over the last year.

Chicago Bulls

The best player to ever play the game of basketball was a Chicago Bull for a majority of his career. The Jordan factor will continue to have an effect on ticket prices in Chicago. When visiting the Windy City, many travel to the United Center just to see the Michael Jordan statue outside of the stadium. Other greats like Scottie Pippen, Jerry Sloan, and Dennis Rodman have played under the same roof as Chicago native Derrick Rose. Bringing in local talent can arguably up the price of tickets – think about the effects of Cavs prices when LeBron played for Cleveland. Last season, the Bulls proved they can still play great basketball without their star point guard, even breaking the Heat’s 27-game winning streak; but the wow factor that fans want see was missing without Rose on the court. The return of Rose has the price of Chicago Bulls tickets up $109 over last season and jumping from the fifth most expensive team in the NBA to the fourth.

Toronto Raptors

Typically we think of Toronto as a hockey town. In 2011, the Maple Leafs were the #5 most expensive professional team, averaging $572 a ticket. Has the Raptors new global ambassador and lifelong fan, Drake, inspired basketball fans of Toronto? It seems that the rapper has his City believing it really is “their time.” The Toronto Raptors have established a talented young core and are expected to fight for a postseason berth this year. As an outsider, it’s easy to pass over this squad, but they have a high ceiling this season. Jonas Valanciunas is one of the most underrated players in the league after getting hot at the end of last season. The Raptors are the Cinderella of the East but an average price of $246 to attend a ball is enough to make even the fairy godmother blush. Toronto Raptors tickets are up 144%, $145 a ticket since last season; it is the fifth largest jump in NBA ticket prices.

Top 5 Most Expensive Teams: 2012-13 Season

  1. Los Angeles Lakers $293
  2. New York Knicks $246
  3. Miami Heat $174
  4. Brooklyn Nets $164
  5. Chicago Bulls $160

Top 5 Most Expensive Teams: 2013-14 Season

  1. New York Knicks $319
  2. Los Angeles Lakers $275
  3. Miami Heat $274
  4. Chicago Bulls $269
  5. Toronto Raptors $246
  6. Brooklyn Nets $227

Infographics Credit: Ryan Galovan

Tagged with:
Posted in Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Instagram Feed