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The Miami Heat's recent run of success has made the team a very valuable NBA property. The super-core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have already brought one championship to South Florida, and the trio helped the Heat turn a $15 million operating profit in 2012, according to a report out of Forbes.com.
The leading financial publication published its annual list of NBA team values Wednesday, estimating the Heat to be worth $625 million. Only five teams are more valuable, led by the New York Knicks at $1.1 billion.
NBA team values have risen 30% over the past year, according to Forbes. A year after the league locked out players before signing a new collective bargaining agreement, player salary costs have fallen to 50% of league revenues, down from 57%. This has boosted team profits as well as franchise values.
Last year, Forbes said the Heat was worth $457 million, meaning the team's value has shot up 37% in just one year. The Heat's value rose only 8% in the previous year. The Heat posted the fourth-biggest operating profit in 2011 at $26 million.
The average operating profit was $11.9 million in 2012, so even though Miami's profits fell 42%, the Heat are still making more money than the average team. Operating profit excludes interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization costs. Nine teams had higher operating profits than the Heat, led by the Knicks with a whopping $83.2 million.
Helping the Heat specifically were TV ratings. "The Heat's cable television rating soared 34% last year, to an average of 6.59 on Sun Sports, second-best in the league," Forbes wrote. The Heat pulled in $150 million of revenues, giving the team a 10% operating profit margin.
The Los Angeles Lakers were the only other team to reach a $1 billion valuation. The Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks are also more valuable than the Heat.
To put the Heat's value in some perspective, the Miami Dolphins are estimated by Forbes to be worth $1.06 billion, and even at that valuation the Dolphins are only the 14th most valuable NFL team. Football is still the king of American sports, even as basketball franchises surge in value.