Charting the Unbelievable Financial Life of the Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have been a permanent fixture atop the Forbes NBA valuations list for the last half-decade. They are currently valued at $1 billion, second only to the New York Knicks.

Mind you, the Lakers weren’t always considered to be one of the most valuable franchises in basketball, let alone all of professional sports.


The change in their fortunes began when the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960; while in Minneapolis they were doing poorly financially, partly because they were second to last in attendance.

In Los Angeles, the attendance increased but was still relatively low compared to other franchises in the NBA.

However, the team made a move that may not have seemed all that important at the time but was huge in hindsight: They scheduled a series of preseason games across the country against a Boston Celtics team that had not only won the last two titles, but that would also go on to dominate the rest of the decade and form a heated rivalry with the Lakers.

Armed with Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, the Lakers began to compete for titles and regularly met the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, but ultimately always lost to them.

The team’s success led to more crowds showing up for Laker games as well as stars making appearances at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena to be seen at the contests.

This led to a businessman by the name of Jack Kent Cooke taking interest in the franchise and buying it for $5 million in 1965.

A mere three years later, Cooke had the Great Western Forum built at the cost of $16 million and moved the Lakers into his new state-of-the-art stadium, all the while abandoning the blue and white jerseys in favor of the purple and gold.

In the first three years of the new owner’s reign, the Lakers made two appearances in the NBA Finals but were defeated each time in the title round by Bill Russ...

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