David Stern was right.
In September 2012, before the Brooklyn Nets opened their inaugural season in the borough, the then-NBA commissioner said he believed the franchise could be a top-5 revenue team in the league. A bold prediction for a squad that was coming off a year in which it finished 27th in the league in ticket revenue.
But, lo and behold, the Nets appear to be validating Stern's words. Not only have they soared to fifth in the league in ticket sales, they are also the fifth most valuable NBA franchise on Forbes' list. That's a nine-spot jump in the span of two years.
According to Forbes, the Nets are now worth an estimated $780 million, up from $575 million in 2012.
The Nets' new value has roots in a variety of factors. The team has done moderately well on the court, with two playoff appearances in two seasons and one series victory. Thanks to the free-spending ways of billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets had the NBA's largest payroll in 2013-14 (an astounding $103 million). The addition of Nets legend and future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd as head coach only aded to the team's allure.
Thanks in part to Jay-Z and Brooklyn's hip vibe, the Nets have created a culture that few other teams can replicate in their first years in a new city. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, the team will finish seventh in merchandise sales this year, up from 30th in 2011-12.
The Nets' appeal has expanded beyond Brooklyn, and Rovell reports that this season the Nets had a 14 percent increase in ticket buyers from Manhattan. It probably didn't hurt that the Knicks are in disarray and finished the season eight games under .500.
Brooklyn's season came to an end Wednesday when it lost to Miami in the conference semifinals, but as long as the team keeps moving in the same direction, the future looks bright.
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