The Lakers returned a $4.6 million forgivable loan they received under a federal program ostensibly designed to help small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
But should the Lakers have applied through the Payroll Protection Program in the first place?
The mounting evidence sure looks unfavorable for Jeanie Buss’ franchise.
Darren Rovell of The Action Network:
Confirmed that the Los Angeles Lakers were the only NBA team to ask for a Paycheck Protection Plan loan from the Small Business Administration. They received $4.6M and, as first reported by @kevinarnovitz, they have now returned it.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 27, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, via Fred Imbert of CNBC:
“I’m not a big fan of the fact that they took a $4.6 million,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I think that’s outrageous.”
Mnuchin added he “would have never expected in a million years that the Los Angeles Lakers” would take such a loan. He also said he was glad the team returned the money, “or they would have had liability.”
The Lakers are a business. Buss has a fiduciary duty to the team’s minority owners. That means exploring potential sources of revenue.
But this incident harms the Lakers’ brand, which is built on forging a deeper connection with fans. It’s in their financial best interest to be viewed as a basketball team, not a coldly transactional company.
That’s on the Lakers’ side.
The bigger issue: Why were they approved for this loan if it shouldn’t have been for them? This entire program is plagued with problems.