The American Basketball Association was launched in 1967 as a rival to the NBA, but and within ten years succeeded in forcing a merger with its rival, the NBA. It presented a more exciting, flashier game, but struggled to shift ticket and in 1976, reaching the point of insolvency, the owners took the decision to go to the NBA and merge the two leagues.
Only four teams from the ABA were to be admitted into the NBA: those ended up being the Nets, the Spurs, the Nuggets and the Pacers. However, the owners of the Spirits of St Louis – Ozzie and Daniel Silna – didn’t accept the deal offered to dissolve.
Along with their lawyer Donald Schupak, the brothers negotiated a package: $2 million up front, plus a portion of TV broadcast revenues equal to a seventh of the amount received by the four ABA teams. And this agreement would be “For as long as the NBA or its successors continues in its existence.” Yes, basically forever. TV revenues in 1976 were not particularly large and weren’t considered to be a market to be taken all that seriously, and thus most lucrative deal ever made in sports was signed.
Forty years and an estimated 300 million in cheddar later, the NBA finally decided to escape this expensive millstone around their neck. In 2014 the brothers agreed to a $500 million buyout, taking their purchase of a team for a single million, a team that hasn’t even existed since 1976, and turning it into over $800 million.
Have a good day, everyone!