2024 Guide for Top Basketball Cities in the U.S.

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Basketball is one of the cornerstones of American sports culture, trailing only football in popularity.

The NBA’s substantial economic footprint—generating over $10 billion annually—proves the sport’s significance.

With teams averaging valuations of $3.85 billion, revenue streams include ticket sales, TV deals, merchandise, and uniform advertising.

Yet, the real magic of basketball lies in the fans and the cities that nurture this passion.

What Makes a City Great for Basketball Fans?

WalletHub’s extensive analysis of over 290 cities, using 21 metrics ranging from team performance to ticket affordability, reveals the best and worst cities for basketball fans in 2024.

Accessibility to stadiums and affordable ticket prices also play crucial roles.

Cities that rank high for basketball enthusiasts combine several key factors:

  • top-performing teams
  • strong revenues
  • rich traditions
  • engaged and supportive fan base

 

The Best Cities for Basketball Fans

clippers and lakers CA1. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles tops the list, a haven for basketball fans with its dual NBA teams—the Lakers and Clippers—and four Division 1 NCAA teams.

The Lakers’ 17 NBA championships, tied for the most in history, are a testament to the city’s basketball prowess.

Legendary players like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Magic Johnson have graced the Lakers, and the city boasts 17 hall-of-fame coaches.

The average franchise value of $5.5 billion reflects the team’s economic strength. Collegiately, UCLA Bruins lead with the most national titles.

Boston Celtics MA2. Boston, MA

Boston, home to the Boston Celtics, shares the record for the most NBA championships (17) with Los Angeles.

The Celtics enjoy high fan engagement, which is evident from their substantial social media following and ranking as the second-most popular NBA team in The Athletic’s survey.

Valued at over $4.7 billion, the Celtics are the fourth-most valuable NBA team.

Boston’s collegiate scene, with three Division 1 teams, contributes to its rich basketball culture despite lacking national titles.

3. San Francisco, CA

Golden State Warriors CA

San Francisco secures the third spot with the Golden State Warriors, winners of seven NBA championships.

The Warriors’ popularity, bolstered by Stephen Curry’s star appeal, ranks them first in fan engagement according to The Athletic’s survey.

The city’s sole Division 1 NCAA team, the San Francisco Dons, adds to the basketball heritage with two national championships.

The Worst Cities for Basketball Fans

Overall, WalletHub analyzed over 290 of the largest cities using 21 key metrics, including the performance of the NBA and NCAA Division 1 basketball teams, ticket prices, and stadium accessibility.

These are the worst cities to live in if you are a big fan of basketball:

  • Austin, TX
  • Commerce, TX
  • Dover, DE
  • Wichita, KS
  • Green Bay, WI
  • Easton, MA
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Pocatello, ID
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • New Britain, CT

Where Are the Most and Least Engaged Basketball Fans?

In 2024, the cities with the most engaged NBA fans include Miami, FL, Cleveland, OH, San Francisco, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Boston, MA, all tied for the top spot.

Conversely, the cities with the least engaged fans are Detroit, MI, Charlotte, NC, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, and New York, NY.

The engagement disparity is significant, with Miami, FL, exhibiting 29 times more fan engagement than New York, NY, highlighting a vast difference in how fans connect with their teams across different cities.

The Methodology Behind the Rankings

WalletHub’s study evaluates cities based on their NBA and NCAA basketball presence, using a weighted scoring system.

Metrics include:

  • Number of NBA and NCAA teams
  • Team performance and championship wins
  • Franchise value
  • Fan engagement (social media following)
  • Ticket prices and stadium accessibility
  • Cities are categorized by size—large (over 300,000), midsize (100,000-300,000), and small (under 100,000)—ensuring a fair comparison across different urban landscapes.

Source: WalletHub

 

Fans of basketball can benefit from a unique experience from watching top teams to being involved in strong basketball communities by living in a top basketball city.

Basketball culture is best cultivated in places like Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco.

The greatest basketball experiences are offered by these cities, whether they are from the excitement of collegiate championships or NBA games.NBA logo

Basketball is one of the most beloved sports in the U.S., and while you can enjoy watching it from anywhere, there’s something truly special about living in one of the best cities for basketball fans,” says WalletHub’s Cassandra Happe.

These cities stand out because of the way that history, performance, and fan involvement are combined to provide a place where basketball fans may thrive.

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It’s exciting, has a rich history, and strong community support.

Over $10 billion.

Top teams, strong revenues, traditions, engaged fans, accessible stadiums, and affordable tickets.

Miami, Cleveland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Boston.

Detroit, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and New York.

Fans in Miami are 29 times more engaged than those in New York.

By analyzing over 290 cities using 21 metrics like team performance and fan engagement.

Liga Tarasova has a history of quality assurance and leading teams in an outsourcing company. Currently, she is working remotely as an Editor in Chief for Onlinegamblers.com. She stands for fair and safe gambling for people in the USA. Not long ago, she lived in Malta, the global iGaming hub, and worked at an iGaming company offering cloud-based product and platform services to B2B partners. Liga’s passion is visual arts and interior design.

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