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Kelly Dwyer

LeBron James is making money for the Knicks

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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The title of this piece, "How LeBron James(notes) May Have Saved the New York Knicks After All" is a bit over the top. James, by heading to the Miami Heat last summer, didn't save the Knicks, in the slightest.

The team badly tried to clear out as much cap space as NBA'ly possible in anticipation of James' 2010 free-agent turn, and while it did well to snap up Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Raymond Felton(notes) as a result, the squad also ended up sacrificing more draft picks along the way. Last February, in a bid to clear space in dumping Jared Jeffries(notes) off the roster, New York lost its 2012 pick in a trade with Houston, and gave the Rockets the right to swap New York's 2011 pick with their own.

It was an understandable (if not prudent) move, though, trying to clear everything it could in the hopes that James would sign with the team as a free agent. And, in the time between losing Jeffries' contract last February and the first week of July (when James made his move to Miami official), the Knicks scored 4,000 season-ticket holders. The hope for LeBron alone was significant enough for Knicks fans to pull out their wallets and pay for a shot at watching James 41 times during the regular season.

When James moved onto Miami, though, these "Knicks fans" decided that, maybe, watching Raymond Felton wouldn't have the same cachet. Which is why, according to Business Insider, there are well over 350,000 Knicks tickets currently for sale on various second-hand legal ticketing websites.

And yet, to Business Insider, this might be a good thing for the Knicks; even if the ticket holders in question are following through on the symbolic exercise of showing up to fill the seats they've already paid for.

Over the last 10 years, fans have been the beneficiaries of the dynamically priced secondary ticket market, pocketing billions in profits for games where demand outstripped supply. This has largely been at the expense of teams, who have not captured as much of that market-based upside as they would like. As the result of "The Decision," however, we're seeing the opposite situation play out, one in which fans are bearing most, if not all, of the downside risk.

Freed from the burden of having to fill seats every night, the Knicks are now spending their marketing dollars to revitalize one of the most iconic brands in all of sports. They've also got several thousand fresh season ticket holders who will be paying close attention to their investment, and maybe even attending a few games along the way.

Makes a ton of sense. Sure, James' presence would lead to a guaranteed few games' worth of playoff receipts, but these seats (bought by one consumer, handed down to another, and then another, and then another through various means both paid for and otherwise) allow for the team to focus its moneymaking ventures elsewhere, while taking in the sort of exposure that a fifth-hand game participant brings in.

Sure, that initial season-ticket holder may already have a Danilo Gallinari(notes) jersey, but the buyer that purchases that set for a Warriors game (or the person that buys the seat off of that guy, or the client that takes in a free ticket off of that buyer) may not have one. It's massive exposure, a half-dozen times over.

And, though it pains me to say it as a Bulls fan, it is what has made Chicago the most profitable franchise in the NBA in the 12 years since Michael Jordan and the team parted ways.

It's a good read, this. And while it doesn't exactly tell you that the Knicks are better off without LeBron James running the point-forward position for them this season, it is a bit of insight as to why NBA teams work, even if they don't have an obvious Hall of Famer strutting onto the court during the team's introductions.

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