Each year, the NBA pays part of the television revenue from the four former ABA teams — the Spurs, Pacers, Nets and Nuggets — to the owners of the now defunct Spirit of St. Louis. Seriously. It’s a budget line item for those teams. Nobody talks about the actual amount over the past 36 years but estimates have it at around $240 million.
It was part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed before the 1976 merger of the old ABA and NBA, one where name players like Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek and Bill Bradley challenge the anti-trust status of the NBA. The case was settled before the merger.
As part of the deal owners of the ABA team the Spirit of St. Louis, Ozzie and Dan Silna, agreed to fold their team if they were paid 1/7th of the NBA’s television revenue for four merged teams. Forever. As in a portion of the national television revenue that would go to the Spurs, Pacers, Nets and Nuggets next season will instead go to the Silna family. Not bad for doing nothing but waiting for the checks to roll in.
But it wasn’t enough.
Last year the NBA asked the courts to re-open the settlement, so the Silna brothers countered they were being shortchanged by not getting a piece of international and cable broadcast rights, reports the Associated Press.
Thursday a judge listened to arguments from both sides then told them to try and settle the case out of court, according to the AP.
To which I say yes — courts are already backlogged with actual cases that are of import to people’s lives, this is frivolous crap. The Silna’s are getting rich (well, richer, they were already rich) sitting on their behind, with their payments getting larger as the national television deals for the NBA have grown.
The Silna’s made a savvy business move a few decades back, when nobody predicted the NBA’s popularity surge. Good for them. I get why the NBA wants to revisit it, but they signed on to it. However, for the brothers to ask for more now just seems greedy. But welcome to America.