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Top Five Most Valuable NBA Franchises

Forbes Magazine's count-down of the most valuable NBA teams

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The Madison Square Garden fans chanting "M-V-P" every time Amar'e Stoudemire steps to the foul line might be talking about the team's bottom line. Stoudemire's arrival in New York has helped to spur ticket sales and sponsorships, boosting the value of the Knick franchise by 12 percent according to estimates published by Forbes.

Unsurprisingly, LeBron James had an even bigger impact, helping to boost the Miami Heat's value 17 percent, while the Cleveland Cavaliers fell 26 percent.

Here's a look at the five most valuable teams in the NBA. For the complete list, visit Forbes.com.

1. New York Knicks: $655 million

Keith Allison/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Knicks sold out their full-season ticket plans for the first time in nearly a decade. Amar'e Stoudemire gets much of the credit, but ticket sales for the 2010-11 season were actually up before STAT signed, in anticipation of LeBron James arriving in New York. Team president Donnie Walsh's efforts to trim salaries helped here too; the Knicks are under the salary cap for the first time in a generation.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: $643 million

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images Sport / Ronald Martinez

The two-time defending NBA champs slipped out of the number one spot on Forbes' list, but don't cry for Jerry Buss, who has turned a $20 million investment in 1979 into a $643 million beast.

3. Chicago Bulls: $511 million

Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo
Elsa/Getty Images

The "second city" may be the NBA's most lucrative market. Chicago is the third-largest market in the United States, but unlike the Knicks and Lakers, the Bulls don't have to compete with another NBA team in their back yard.

4. Boston Celtics: $452 million

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

With a veteran-laden (in other words, expensive) roster, the Celtics needed a deep run in the playoffs to post an operating profit last season.

5. Houston Rockets: $443 million

Yao Ming - Houston Rockets
Getty Images / Jeff Gross

The Rockets' value slipped by six percent last season, due to a disappointing record and the absence of center Yao Ming. That could be the start of a trend, as the big center is out for the season again this year. With a contract that expires after this season, his career in Houston could be over.

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