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I do detect the smell of cash in the air... or a reminder why the Suns want Shaq and Nash back next season.

The NBA store announced it's list of this year's top selling jerseys, with Kobe back at #1.

Steve Nash is at #13, and Shaq is at #14.   Amazingly enough, Allen Iverson's Pistons jersey is at #5, and Nate Robinson's is #8.

It's a reminder, btw, that the NBA is at its core, a business, and one that relies primarily on it's superstars, who fill seats, help sell TV time, and in this case shift merchandise.  Despite the shared revenue from the NBA's TV partnership, gate receipts are still the lifeblood of most franchises, representing 33% of the leagues revenue.  On top of that, there are concession sales at US Airways.

Forbes has a breakdown of the 2007 financial picture, and the 2008 numbers. Two things are clear from those:

  1. The Suns are still decently profitable, with revenue in 2008 of $148M, and income (i.e gross profit) of $28.9M (down from $145M/$37.3M in 2007).
  2. The Suns spend their player money effectively, getting a 122 wins-to-player ratio (essentially normalized wins/dollar. 100 is league average).

What does this all mean for the franchise?

Firstly, it's clear that Steve Nash and Shaq are the team's franchise players, as measured by jersey sales.  Keeping them will likely result in continued attendance, season-ticket and regular ticket sales, despite the economy.

Secondly, despite the luxury tax, the team is actually in a good financial position, and that they can afford to pay players at the current level, and still make money.  In fact, all the noise regarding the luxury tax (which we were told was *vital* to reduce), actually seems to be primarily a desire on the part of Robert Sarver, rather than a true financial imperative.

From my perspective this changes my point of view slightly.  While it would be unfair to suggest that the franchise should run at a loss, so long as it *is profitable*, the Suns should do as much as they can financially to win a title, or come close to winning.   And they should do this because they'll make money from merchandising and other sales, when the economy starts to recover.

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