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For $1 Billion In 1999, You Could Have Bought The Knicks, The Lakers, AND The Bulls

The Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks, and the Chicago Bulls were all headed in very different directions in terms of their success back in 1999. You could have owned all three teams if you had a billion dollars to your name.

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) has recently concluded its All-Star break, which serves as an annual showcase for the league’s most talented and accomplished players. Naturally, this year was different from previous years because the rules of the game were altered in Kobe Bryant’s honor after he passed away. Bryant was a consistent presence at the All-Star Game over the course of his career, appearing in each and every game from 1998 to 2016.

Bryant was just 20 years old and just getting started making his mark on the league in 1999, the year that there wasn’t an All-Star Game because of the lockout. Bryant was in the early stages of leaving his mark on the league. His Los Angeles Lakers finished the season with a record of 31-19 despite the fact that they were still one year away from winning their first of three consecutive championships.

While that was going on, the Chicago Bulls were heading in the opposite direction. Even though they were the reigning champions, by 1999 their roster had been significantly depleted. All of the team’s key players, including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and head coach Phil Jackson, had left. The Bulls would ultimately end up with a record of 13-37, which was good for last place in their division.

The New York Knicks played a position roughly in the middle of that of the Lakers and the Bulls. They had star players like Patrick Ewing and Latrell Sprewell, but they also had a number of players get hurt during the season. The team finished the season with a record of 27-23, earning them the eighth seed in the playoffs. The Knicks had their best postseason performance in the past 25 years, making it all the way to the NBA Finals before being eliminated by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in five games.

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In 1999, the Lakers, the Knicks, and the Bulls were the three most dominant teams in the NBA. And had you one billion dollars, you would have been able to buy all three of them outright.

JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images

JOHN ZICH/AFP, published here by Getty Images

According to Darren Rovell, the New York Knicks were the most valuable team in 1999, with a value of $334 million. The Chicago Bulls came in second, with a value of $307 million (Lakers). That means you could have owned them all for less than one billion dollars total.

There are, of course, regulations in place that prevent a single individual from owning more than one team. In either case, it’s an impressive statistic, especially when taken into account alongside the current value of franchises.

Both the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers are now worth more than $4 billion, with respective values of $4.6 billion and $4.4 billion. The value of the Bulls is estimated to be $3.2 billion. That price tag of less than one billion dollars from 1999? Using current prices, it would be close to $12,2 billion.

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Forbes estimates that the Lakers, the Knicks, and the Warriors are the three teams in the NBA that are worth at least $4 billion, with the Warriors being the most valuable of the three. And the Warriors have perhaps had the most meteoric rise of any team in recent history.

In 2010, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber reached an agreement to buy the Warriors for a record-setting price of $450 million. Taking into account the effects of inflation, their market value as of today, which is $4.3 billion, has increased by 716 percent in less than a decade.

The National Basketball Association is undoubtedly as entertaining as it has ever been. You can anticipate seeing franchise values increase even further as the game continues its meteoric rise in popularity and as more people start playing it. And billionaires all over the world will be kicking themselves for not splurging on a team when it was still possible to do so for only a couple hundred million dollars.

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