In ABA antitrust case, rich still looking to get richer

ABAAs is no surprise around San Antonio, our lone professional sports franchise, the San Antonio Spurs once hailed from the ABA before a merger in the 1970s.

Now in 2012, who would know that the Spurs and NBA are still paying for that merger. While the NBA got four franchises, including the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and the Spurs, the NBA has lost a boatload due to a terrible deal.

It all began in 1970, when future legends like Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek and Bill Bradley filed an antitrust lawsuit challenging the NBA's then-proposed merger with the ABA.
 
As part of a settlement reached in 1976, the St. Louis Spirits of the ABA agreed to fold. In exchange, the NBA was required starting in 1980 to pay Spirits owners Ozzie and Dan Silna a portion of the television revenue earned by the four ABA teams that survived the merger: the Indiana Pacers, now Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs.
 
Because the four teams must share with the Silnas as long as the NBA exists, the brothers have quietly made a killing off league's explosion in popularity in recent decades – by some estimates, around $240 million so far.

$240 million! I bet David Stern and Co. wish they could go back in time to erase that whopper, but instead the teams are paying out of pocket to the former Spirits owners. But the men who struck it rich want even more, according to the release from NBA.com.

 
But the brothers have now called a technical foul: Last year, they asked the court to reopen the old antitrust case, claiming that the league has unfairly cut them out of revenue from international broadcasts and cable packages.
 
While an NBA lawyer has said they are only supposed to share network revenues, it looks like this one could be headed for court.
 
While a deal is a deal, the former Spirits owners should be more than happy with the riches they've acquired from the NBA, instead of demanding more and taking even more out of each teams' yearly budgets.
 
Someone remind me to invest in a basketball league in 20 years.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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