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Forbes: Lakers Top Net Worth, Kobe Ranks No. 3

Despite tough times on the court, Forbes announced that the Lakers still rank no. 1 on the list of most valuable NBA franchises.

Due largely to massive television contracts along with other financial factors, NBA teams are worth more than ever. The Los Angeles Lakers, despite a few down years, still rank top of the pile according to Forbes.

According to the widely respected publication that specializes in wealth valuation, the Los Angeles Lakers have a net worth of $2.6 billion in 2015, which is a sharp 93 percent increase from only one year ago. A season ago, the Lakers were one of three NBA teams with a net worth over $1 billion. In 2015, 11 professional basketball teams have risen to the billion dollar level, and the average NBA franchise is worth $1.1 billion.

Along with having the most valuable brand in basketball, the Lakers also play the most expensive salary in the NBA. Kobe Bryant earns $23.5 million per season, and he has been the league's highest paid contract for five straight years.

According to Forbes, Bryant ranks third in the NBA in net earnings with $49.5 million for the 2014-15 season.

For the first time in a decade, Bryant is not the top earner in the NBA. The last time Bryant did not top the list was back during the 2004-05 season, when Shaquille O'Neal held the honor. In 2015, LeBron James has taken over basketball's earning crown, as the two-time NBA champion ranks at the top with an astounding $64.6 million this year. Perhaps, the added marketability and earnings help further explain why James moved back home to Cleveland.

Technically, Bryant did take a pay cut, so had he forced his way to a $30 million contract, no. 24 would still not be no. 2. Had Bryant taken a larger contract, he would still top Kevin Durant, who earned $54 million through salary and endorsements.

Durant did not even rank in to the NBA's top 10 earners until the 2011-12 season. The NBA's Most Valuable Player award apparently adds value to an NBA player's bank account, as Durant took home the highly coveted regular season award in 2014 and subsequently jumped up two spots on the Forbes list.

Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks ranked fourth and fifth on Forbes' list, hinting that big markets still matter. 

Considering the New York Knicks ranked second on Forbes' 2015 list for highest net worth, winning on the court clearly does not factor directly into net worth. The Knicks have the worst team in the NBA, and the Lakers rank fourth from the bottom. However, the LA and New York are the two biggest markets in the NBA, and so, the Lakers rank no. 1 in net worth and the Knicks rank no. 2 in valuation.

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