2000-2009 Chicago Bulls, a dynasty of profits

If there was a world championship for money making, the city of Chicago would bankrupt itself throwing parades for our Chicago Bulls.   The Bulls may not have put all the winning pieces together on the court, but the business side is crushing the competition.

In the NBA, the Bulls are #1 over the past decade.   The second place team?   The Lakers.   Trailing by 100 million in profits.

Bare in mind, over this stretch the Bulls made the playoffs four times and got past the first round once, while never getting past the second round.   The Lakers, in a bigger market, won four titles and made it to the NBA finals two other times over this stretch.   Yet, they fell 100 million short of the profit levels the Bulls achieved.  How is that even possible?

First thing you’re thinking is Jordan carry-over.   Not so fast, look at the three year average.   The Bulls are averaging over 10 million a year more profit over that stretch then the Lakers, well past any Jordan carry-over was present.  There is a Jordan effect in how profitable the Bulls stadium deal is, but that effect will last as long as the stadium, so it will continue into the indefinite future.

Team 10 Year Profit 3 Year Profit 1 Year Profit
Bulls 474 165 51
Lakers 373 131 51
Suns 275 87 21
Pistons 263 126 42
Rockets 199 91 30
Celtics 165 51 13
Spurs 141 54 19
Clippers 140 31 10
Cavaliers 127 50 5
Wizards 113 32 5
Raptors 109 75 18
Heat 104 25 8
Jazz 85 23 8
Knicks 80 9 21
Kings 62 25 -3
Warriors 55 26 12
Hornets 49 13 0
76ers 45 5 8
Hawks 42 15 -2
Magic 26 9 -2
Thunder 12 -2 13
Nuggets 10 -26 5
Bobcats 7 -5 -15
Pacers -8 -23 -16
Timberwolves -9 -15 -7
Nets -36 -16 -14
Bucks -47 0 -7
Grizzlies -99 -21 -7
Mavericks -154 -33 -17
Blazers -259 -46 -20

Just comparing to NBA teams wouldn’t put the Bulls in proper context though.  Over the past decade, the Bulls have made more profits than any NHL team (duh), any MLB team (surprised?), and every NFL team save the Washington Redskins [odd that the Redskins are the most profitable NFL team, but since every NFL game sells out, it must have the best stadium deal/market combination].   

That’s right, the Chicago Bulls are the second most profitable franchise in US sports.   They’re doing that with total revenue probably ranked somewhere around 60-65th out of all those teams.   They’re doing that without even fielding an above average team over the decade.  It’s incredible.   If there was a march madness of profits, the Bulls would be the bracket busting Cinderella team that didn’t even belong in the tourney but somehow made it to the finals.

With 2010 free agency looming, the Bulls decided to restrict future spending in order to attempt to grab a superstar.   That was the right move, and because of it, the Bulls limited spending.   However, after this summer when the money is tied up and the Bulls have their star that excuse is off the table.

In the past, the Bulls haven’t had a sense of urgency and have
refused to pay the tax.  They also haven’t had the talent to
appreciably improve their position for doing so, so that decision was at least somewhat understandable even if disappointing.    

Starting summer of 2011 and perhaps trade deadline 2010, the Bulls need to be in spending mode.  They’ll have whatever core they’re going to have, and it’s time to add talent at all costs.  It’s time to give back to the fans who’ve lined the organizations pockets for the past decade.   With a young all-star in Rose, a potential all-star coming in FA, the Bulls need to be in win now mode with a sense of urgency.

It will be time for Reinsdorf to finally prove his old quote of being willing to pay for a winner.   The money to pay is there, let’s hope he’s willing to give it up.

[data gathered from Forbes Business of Basketball, Hockey, Baseball, and Football articles, the profits are rounded to the nearest
million, though the Bulls and Lakers are tied for most profits in the
past year, the Lakers slightly edge the Bulls for that year.]


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  • I think the Suns fans have the most right to complain, 3rd on the list and they were selling picks for cash while they were contenders. If the Bulls start pulling that kind of crap I'll jump on the JR is cheap bandwagon too.

  • What is bad is they could have done more wheeling and dealing to have good/average players with expiring contracts like a John Salmons, Brad Miller to give a better bench. They knew a few years back that 2010 is the year they will have to cap space. So they could have traded for players such as Stoudemire, Boozer or improved the bench a little more starting last year rather when they got the first pick. They could have put a better product on the field spending on all the exceptions.

  • Doug, Jerry's(Bulls organization's) mega profitability has literally come at the expense of the fan with mostly lackluster teams/inferior product to show for their unyielding commitment for a decade. Does it really take ten years for that investment by fans to pay off?

    Once they lucked into Rose, only then is it time to start thinking about fielding a good team/contender to near so again?

    As I've said, the way Paxson's talking about this Salmon's trade as "enabling" the (financial)pursuit of a Max Free Agent, I don't think they plan on going over the cap/paying any luxury tax. I hope they prove me wrong, but I seriously doubt it. Getting Harrington for Tyrus would have shown me the Bulls were serious about fortifying/at least attempting now for a strong showing this season and a serious run at one of the top F.A.'s(Wade/Bosh). Instead the conservative "rainy day" approach was used with a more then likely well down the road draft pick and two marginal(39% FG's and 10 ppg) bench guys.

    It's painfully obvious(yet often ignored) that Chicago teams are not like the N.Y's(Yankees), L.A.'s(Lakers), Boston's(Red Sox/Pats/Celts), Dallas'(Cowboys/Mavs). The Yankees go out and get Mark Texeria. The Cubs go out and get Milton Bradley. They(Chicago teams) are not determined to bring marquee names to their team/the fans(unless they are old/has beens) i.e Orlando Pace. Or they bring in a psuedo star like Soriano who everyone knows is a bum defensivelya and a strikeout artist. And the Bulls big mega deal/star delivery: Ben Wallace, an aging defensive "star" with no scoring star talent to entertain fans, and an attitude to boot.

    I just don't buy that Jerry/the Bulls are going to do what it takes to acquire a D-Wade or Bosh. That's why everyone from K.C. on down has suggested that a player like Joe Johnson might be more likely the eventual result.

    If we get Wade or Bosh I'll be as shocked as I ever have been about anything that's ever happened in Chicago sports. The thing is look at what the Lakers spend yet because they have Kobe and Pau(with Odom, Artest etc.) that's a superstar draw in a huge market. So they are still making a nice profit despite very exorbitant spending. Remember all the Kobe furor? Chicago fans(myself included), somewhat because we are loyal/captive, are really a bunch of delusional saps. I'll eat my Bulls cap(s) or whatever else you can think of if they get Bosh or Wade. Not going to happen. Not in Chicago. And it's not because of the frickin' weather.

  • In reply to SamS:

    i think this year is the only exception.. even if we dont land bosh who i think is goina come if we get at least a 7 seed.. we can still land a top 15-20 player in this league in amare or johnson.. sounds like a drop off huh? but guess what a all star is a all star.. name how many times we had a all star since micahel.. were loyal fans.. but we def ask for alot most times and overrate.. but we do deserve it

  • Doug, if it weren't for Paxson's huge overpay on Deng(until recently low PER/doesn't get to the line or shoot threes) and Hinrich(career FG% dud and doesn't get to the line), there wouldn't have to be so much "preparation" for crippling financial constraints that wouldn't be there in the first place. Not to mention the Wallace fiasco which tied up huge payroll for years in a guy who scores/delivers Nothing offensively. You have to admit there's been some major, major mistakes.

  • In reply to SamS:

    Piling on the Deng comment....

    What made that contract even worse, in my opinion, is the fact that after Deng turned down the 5 years, 50-whatever million dollar offer, he went out, and played at a lower level the following season. So, the obvious course of action became OFFERING HIM MORE MONEY!!!

  • Very good stuff Doug. I think JR has been lucky the past 5 years because he has been making the playoffs with a below than average team and the year we didnt we hit the lotto gold and got Rose who has made JR even more rich. I know the NBA is a buisness but JR treats the whitesox so much better, look at all the deals he did in a year they didnt even make the playoffs.

  • In reply to Newskoolbulls:

    threres nothing we can do about that.. seriously .. its his money .. and were stuck with him .. if we cant land bosh or wade we must go with the next available at least .. and its amare or johnson.. we know he wont spend so we gotta get the best we can.. and hope we get close enough for him to see that were a piece away..

  • In reply to Newskoolbulls:

    I thought Stern said the teams lost ~200 last year. This shows them +200M for last year. Doug, any thoughts?

  • In reply to Newskoolbulls:

    To bad Jerry Reinsdorf doesnt give a crap about the Bulls...all he wants to do is make money and go spend it on his beloved White Sox. Reinsdoft should not be allowed to own 2 franchises.

  • FYI:

    Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are expected to play tonight.


    Good. The Bulls need both of them to play GREAT!!!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    great news ..

  • More than a little surprising... good stuff here. About 51 million reasons why it's legit to cry b.s. this year when Reinsdorf trots out Kenny Williams to say the Sox don't have the financial flexibility to do something (Johnny Damon anyone?)

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