The Los Angeles Lakers are a brand that continues to grow on a global scale. Adding marquee players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis has only accelerated that growth. The franchise is one of the most recognizable sports brands in the world with a $4.4 billion dollar estimated valuation in 2020, which ranks second only to the New York Knicks in the NBA. It also represents an increase in the value of $700 million U.S. dollars compared to the previous year
How’s that break down?
Major Franchise Assets
NBA franchises have valuable assets. The Lakers are not only a team with a storied past, but they also have a multi-prong business organization worth billions. The Lakers franchise is currently valued at about $850 million. The team also has sports operations including facilities worth more than $700 million (which is larger than some online casinos). Their marketing and licensing deals are valued at $750 million and their market (Los Angeles) adds an incredible $2.1 billion to the bottom line.
Focus On Players
With the rise of social media, players are becoming fan favorites earlier than ever before. The Lakers are skilled at identifying star talent right out of the gate. For example, Lonzo Ball‘s popularity started in AAU ball and when he played for Chino Hills. His star power continued to blossom during his time at UCLA and the Lakers took note of his popularity. Similarly, the team continues to focus on young and upcoming players than will be able to perform at the NBA level. As a result, fans are following players from younger ages throughout their entire journey to becoming a Los Angeles Laker.
Growing The Brand In China
The Lakers were one of the first NBA franchises to tap into the growing potential of China’s burgeoning middle class. When Kobe Bryant visited China in 1998, he ran basketball clinics, participated in philanthropy, and helped market sports apparel. Those efforts raised him to superstar status among his Chinese fanbase. The Lakers skillfully market their players, engaging their growing fanbase in China in a manner that few NBA teams can compare to. Once, 15,000 fans appeared seven hours early to catch a glimpse of Bryant, even though he was not scheduled to appear until later. In fact, there is a statue of Kobe Bryant in his Lakers uniform outside of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Sculpture Museum. These examples highlight the strength of the Lakers brand among China’s basketball-loving community.
Monetizing Jersey Sponsor
The Lakers partnered with the Wish Brand by wearing the e-commerce platform’s logo on their jersey’s for three years. This deal netted the Lakers an estimated $12-14 million. Brands frequently seek to reach a passionate and engaged audience, and no other team is better at engaging an audience than the Lakers. Though the wish brand has 400 million customers and ships 2-3 million products a day, they stand to gain a larger audience with the sponsorship deal. To sweeten the deal, the Lakers enlisted celebrity audience members to wear Wish t-shirts to help boost the advertising power. This marketing deal highlights why the Lakers are geared to grow as a brand because an e-commerce site was a novel deal to the fanbase.
Kobe Bryant’s Lakers Legacy
Kobe Bryant transformed the Lakers during his time as a player. He chartered a path for others in the league, including the new face of the Lakers, LeBron James. His presence shaped the Laker’s roster in an undeniable way. He formed a duo with Shaquille O’Neil that has been opined to be one of the best tandems in basketball history. He’s widely acknowledged as the continuation of the legacy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. Additionally, he was recognized as the heir to Michael Jordan‘s basketball throne. Bryant’s legacy is manifold and provides a framework for future legends to follow.
The Lakers will continue to grow as one of the world’s strongest sports brands. With franchise assets in the billions and a strong focus on players’ brands, the Lakers are a commercial force to be reckoned with. They have shaped the NBA’s global reach in China as well as innovated new marketing relationships. With legendary players like Kobe Bryant, the Lakers continue to redefine basketball.
For all the reasons above, the Lakers will continue growing a global brand.