By David Villafranca
San Francisco, USA, Jun 3 (EFE).- The NBA has reached the season climax with the Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics, but behind the impassioned fight for the ring and the athletic prowess on display is a burgeoning business that makes the league one of the most powerful on the planet.
Creating a championship-worthy team is not cheap.
The Warriors are fully aware of this, given that their star Stephen Curry is the NBA’s highest paid player this year with a salary of $47.78 million, a figure that does not include his sponsorship deals and other business interests off the court.
The other Splash Brother, Klay Thompson, isn’t far behind with a salary of $37.98 million this year, the league’s 11th top-earner.
The Boston Celtic’s highest salary goes to Jayson Tatum, who scoops up $28.10 million annually and is ranked 35th in terms of earnings. His teammate Al Horford is ranked 39th with $27 million a year.
A novelty this time around for the Warriors in their quest for a fourth ring in the last eight years is that they will not be playing the Finals in the Oracle Arena in Oakland but rather in the Chase Center in San Francisco, on the other side of the Bay.
Inaugurated in 2019, just as the Golden State Warriors lurched through injuries and spent two years out of the playoffs, the Chase Center cost $1.4 billion and has a capacity for 18,000 fans.
Not only has the Chase Center returned to the Warriors to San Francisco after half a century playing in Oakland, but it has created a stunning sporting corridor with the home of the MLB’s San Francisco Giants, Oracle Park, just 15 minutes away on foot.
While the Celtics are not debuting a new arena this year, their fans’ expectations may be slightly higher than in San Francisco due to the team’s worrying title drought in recent years.
Winners of 17 rings — the joint highest in NBA history alongside the LA Lakers — the Celtics have not won the title since 2008 and have not featured in a Finals since 2015. The Warriors, by contrast, have played in six Finals since 2015.
This feverish anticipation in Boston is reflected in the price of the tickets according to StubHub, the United States’ leading ticket resale site.
As of June 1, the cheapest ticket for the first game in San Francisco on Friday stood at $782.81, including services fees. The cheapest ticket for the first game in Boston will set a fan back $973.80.
BANKING ON BROADCAST RIGHTS
Fans are unable to fork out the astronomical prices to watch the games in person can tune in on TV, where the Finals are broadcast on ABC with the production of ESPN, both channels are owned by Disney.
In 2014, the NBA extended its contract with ESPN and TNT to include the regular season and the playoffs in a deal worth $24 billion over nine years, according to The New York Times.
This agreement is due to expire in 2024/25 and CNBC reported last year that the NBA was expected to hike the prices of its broadcasting rights to somewhere between $70-75 billion over nine years.
The NBA Finals of 2020, when the league played in a bubble due to the pandemic, recorded the lowest audience figures in history but by 2021 the situation was nearly fully restored, with ABC registering an average of 9.9 million viewers per game, 32% higher than the previous year.
Another important financial aspect of the league is the playoff pool, which dictates the allocation of prize money to teams depending on how close they get to the coveted ring.
This year the pool was worth $17,317,334. A team that falls in the first round walks away with around $258,449 while the season champion scoops $3,066,810.