How Do NBA Owners Make Money? (5 Ways)

The NBA is one of the wealthiest sports leagues in the US and the world, earning billions of dollars in various ways.

This begs the question, how do the team owners make money?

NBA Teams and their owners make money from various basketball and non-basketball-related activities. Some sources are revenue sharing, arena revenue and ticket sales, TV, Radio, Internet, merchandise, sponsorship, advertisements, and brand revenue.

Now, let’s dig deeper into how NBA owners make money and how much do they pocket.

How do NBA Owners Make Money?

New York Knicks stadium

The average team value is more than $2 billion. They also earn an average of $213.53 million in 2021, which has decreased due to the pandemic.

So, how do these teams make money and increase their value?

There are several ways NBA Team owners make money. It can come from direct revenues from basketball-related activities like ticket sales, TV broadcast partnerships, ticket sales, and brand rights. Here are some ways:

1. TV Revenue

One of the integral parts of NBA earnings comes from TV revenue. National and local cable channels and media partners pay the NBA and teams up to tens of billions for the right to air the games.

NBA Teams are also expected to take a substantial portion of these earnings.

2. NBA Merchandise Sales

Besides the TV deals, merchandise sales like jerseys, shirts, caps, balls, and others account for billions of dollars for the NBA.

The league also added jersey patches in 2016, allowing teams to earn millions from direct advertisements on game-worn jerseys.

3. Ticket Sales and Concessions

While ticket sales took a massive blow during the pandemic due to limited seating in arenas, it has then turned around.

Popular teams like the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Golden State Warriors have some of the most expensive tickets in the league.

With arenas raking in up to 20,000 fans every home game and an average ticket price of nearly $100, the revenue per game can easily be millions.

Besides the 41-game regular season, teams can further increase their revenues from ticket sales if they reach the playoffs.

4. International Revenue

Besides the local revenue earned by teams in US and Canada, the NBA also makes billions from its international partners, like China, through various deals like TV partnerships, merchandise, and more.

5. Revenue Sharing

Since there are differences in earnings between different teams, the NBA, like other major sports teams, implements a revenue-sharing scheme among its teams.

Teams pool a portion of their non-basketball-related revenues and divide it among them so that the lower-revenue teams can increase their earnings.

How Much is the Average Income of an NBA Owner?

NBA owners spend millions of dollars annually to pay their players, staff, taxes, and other overhead costs.

However, since NBA owners’ earnings are undisclosed to the public, they are estimated to earn around $30 million annually.

Looking at the number, these owners earn less than the highest-paid players, like Stephen Curry.

But they are not into the annual income. Instead, they focus more on the investment return after buying the team.

Ranking the Highest-Earning Teams in the NBA

The combined earnings of all the NBA Teams reached $6.41 billion in the past season.

The Los Angeles Lakers lead the league in total revenues with $316 million.

In comparison, the Indiana Pacers are the worst-performing team in income, with ‘only’ $179 million in revenue in the past year.

The highest-earning NBA Teams are also not always the best in the league due to market size.

Team2021 Revenue
1. Los Angeles Lakers$316 M
2. New York Knicks$298 M
3. Utah Jazz$262 M
4. Golden State Warriors$258 M
5. Philadelphia 76ers$236 M
6. Dallas Mavericks$231 M
7. Houston Rockets$223 M
8. Los Angeles Clippers$219 M
9. Miami Heat$218 M
10. Washington Wizards$213 M
11. Chicago Bulls$213 M
12. Milwaukee Bucks$212 M
13. Brooklyn Nets$212 M
14. Cleveland Cavaliers$211 M
15. Boston Celtics$211 M
16. Phoenix Suns$206 M
17. San Antonio Spurs$205 M
18. Portland Trail Blazers$201 M
19. Minnesota Timberwolves$199 M
20. Atlanta Hawks$199 M
21. Toronto Raptors$194 M
22. Detroit Pistons$192 M
23. Sacramento Kings$192 M
24. Orlando Magic$188 M
25. Memphis Grizzlies$186 M
26. Denver Nuggets$185 M
27. Charlotte Hornets$183 M
28. Oklahoma City Thunder$183 M
29. New Orleans Pelicans$181 M
30. Indiana Pacers$179 M

Ranking the Most Valuable Teams in the NBA

The NBA has come a long way to become one of the most valuable sports leagues in the world.

Since the emergence of the NBA as a global league, it now boasts three of the top ten most valuable teams in the world, according to Forbes, namely the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The New York Knicks has been one of the most historical and most valued teams in the NBA, with a $5.80 billion estimated team value.

The Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play, sells one of the most expensive tickets in the league.

The Golden State Warriors became one of the most valuable teams in the NBA, surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers due to their continued success in the past decade.

TeamEstimated Team Value
1. New York Knicks$5.800 B
2. Golden State Warriors$5.600 B
3. Los Angeles Lakers$5.500 B
4. Chicago Bulls$3.650 B
5. Boston Celtics$3.550 B
6. Los Angeles Clippers$3.300 B
7. Brooklyn Nets$3.200 B
8. Houston Rockets$2.750 B
9. Dallas Mavericks$2.700 B
10. Toronto Raptors$2.475 B
11. Philadelphia 76ers$2.450 B
12. Miami Heat$2.300 B
13. Portland Trail Blazers$2.050 B
14. Sacramento Kings$2.000 B
15. San Antonio Spurs$1.980 B
16. Washington Wizards$1.925 B
17. Milwaukee Bucks$1.900 B
18. Phoenix Suns$1.800 B
19. Utah Jazz$1.750 B
20. Denver Nuggets$1.725 B
21. Atlanta Hawks$1.680 B
22. Indiana Pacers$1.670 B
23. Cleveland Cavaliers$1.650 B
24. Orlando Magic$1.640 B
25. Oklahoma City Thunder$1.630 B
26. Detroit Pistons$1.580 B
27. Charlotte Hornets$1.575 B
28. Minnesota Timberwolves$1.550 B
29. New Orleans Pelicans$1.525 B
30. Memphis Grizzlies$1.500 B

Ranking the NBA Team Owners by Net Worth

While NBA teams are usually connected to a single owner, teams can be controlled by groups of people.

The most prosperous team owner in the NBA is Steve Balmer of the Los Angeles Clippers, with a net worth of $100 million, who was the CEO of Microsoft until 2014.

On the other hand, Peter Holt of the San Antonio Spurs is the least wealthy group, with $400 million in net worth.

Team owners are expected to be at least multimillionaires and billionaires to buy their respective NBA Teams.

TeamOwnerNet worth
1. Los Angeles ClippersSteve Balmer$100.0 Billion
2. Cleveland CavaliersDaniel Gilbert$22.0 Billion
3. Portland Trail BlazersJody Allen$20.3 Billion
4. Memphis GrizzliesRobert Pera$14.4 Billion
5. Denver NuggetsAnn Walton Kroenke$9.1 Billion
6. Brooklyn NetsJoseph Tsai$8.4 Billion
7. Miami HeatMicky Arison$6.2 Billion
8. Detroit PistonsTom Gores$5.9 Billion
9. Philadelphia 76ersJoshua Harris$5.7 Billion
10. Atlanta HawksAntony Ressler$5.7 Billion
11. Houston RocketsTilman Fertitta$5.6 Billion
12. Orlando MagicRichard DeVos$5.4 Billion
13. Dallas MavericksMark Cuban$4.5 Billion
14. New Orleans PelicansGayle Benson$3.8 Billion
15. Indiana PacersHerb Simon$3.4 Billion
16. Minnesota TimberwolvesGlen Taylor$2.4 Billion
17. New York KnicksJames Dolan$2.0 Billion
18. Milwaukee BucksMarc Lasry$1.8 Billion
19. Chicago BullsJerry Reinsdorf$1.7 Billion
20. Charlotte HornetsMichael Jordan$1.6 Billion
21. Washington WizardsTheodore Leonsis$1.6 Billion
22. Utah JazzRyan Smith$1.6 Billion
23. Toronto Raptors                Larry Tanenbaum$1.5 Billion
24. Golden State WarriorsJoe Lacob$1.2 Billion
25. Sacramento KingsVivek Ranadive$700 Million
26. Los Angeles LakersJeanie Buss$500 Million
27. Phoenix SunsRobert Sarver$400 Million
28. Boston CelticsWyc Grousbeck$400 Million
29. Oklahoma City ThunderClay Bennett$400 Million
30. San Antonio SpursPeter Holt$200 Million

How to Become an NBA Owner/Part-Owner

1. You need to have the cash. All NBA Teams are now worth at least $1 billion.

2. There should be a team selling. If a prospective owner is buying, there should always be someone selling.

3. Adam Silver must approve the deal. The NBA Commissioner can approve or deny an entry of an interested team buyer.

4. 75% of the NBA’s owners must agree to the sale. The other team owners must allow the team’s sale before it pushes through.

What do NBA Owners do?

NBA owners have direct control over their teams. They can influence the hiring and firing of team personnel, trading and drafting of players, and the overall plan for the team.


NBA owners were some of the wealthiest people in the world when they decided to buy their respective NBA Teams.

With the emergence of the NBA as a global brand, this exclusive group of people is already expected to earn more.

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