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1976 NBA-ABA merger

Discussion in 'Sports' started by tripleup, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. tripleup

    tripleup TRIBE Member

    I was curious about this as I kinda knew the circumstances behind it. So I read up on this in Wikipedia and came across a bombshell that blew me away. There were six teams left at the end of the 1976 ABA season.......San Antonio Spurs, New York Nets, Kentucky Colonels, Spirits of St Louis, Indiana Pacers, and the Denver Nuggets

    obviously we know the two teams that didn't make the cut...as I read up on the owners of the St Louis team, I came across this....

    "Brothers Ozzie and Daniel Silna had made a fortune as pioneers in the manufacture of polyester, and they wanted to own an NBA team. After an attempt to purchase the Detroit Pistons fell short, the Silnas purchased the ABA's Carolina Cougars franchise with the expectation of moving it into the NBA with the impending merger of the two leagues. The Silna brothers moved the Cougars to St. Louis, Missouri because it was then the largest city in the United States without a professional basketball team and they thought this would make their team more likely to join the NBA. In 1974 the Cougars, roster and all, were overhauled and became the ABA's Spirits of St. Louis from 1974 through 1976.[58] The 1974–75 Spirits had upset the reigning ABA champion New York Nets in the 1975 Eastern Division Finals before losing to the eventual champion Kentucky Colonels, but in the 1975–76 season the Spirits' play was uneven and their attendance waned.[59][60]

    The 1975–76 season had not turned out so well in terms of either attendance or wins on the court.[61][62] In May 1976, due to attendance problems in St. Louis, the Spirits announced that they were going to move to Salt Lake City, Utah to play as the Utah Rockies when a lease agreement for the Salt Palace was arranged.[63] This followed an attempted merger of the Spirits and the Utah Stars franchise during the 1975–76 season, a merger that, had it occurred, contemplated the team leaving St. Louis for Utah.[64][65] But the Stars folded before the merger could occur and instead, the Spirits bought the rights to some of the Stars' best players, including Moses Malone.[66][65] In an effort to be included in the ABA–NBA merger, the Spirits' owners, the Silna brothers, proposed selling the Spirits to a Utah group, buying the Kentucky Colonels franchise, and moving the Colonels to Buffalo to replace the Buffalo Braves, who were then planning to move to Hollywood, Florida.[67] The Spirits were not included in the merger, but the Silna brothers nonetheless managed to turn the merger, for them, into one of the greatest deals in the history of professional sports:[68][69][70] In June 1976, the remaining ABA owners agreed, in return for the Spirits folding, to pay the St. Louis owners $2.2 million in cash up front in addition to a 1/7 share of the four remaining teams' television revenues in perpetuity.[53][71][70] As the NBA's popularity exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, the league's television rights were sold to CBS and then NBC, and additional deals were struck with the TNT and TBS cable networks; league television revenue soared into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Over the past 25 years, the Silnas have collected approximately $100 million from the NBA, despite the fact that the Spirits never played an NBA game. The Silnas continue to receive checks from the NBA on a yearly basis, representing a 4/7 share of the television money that would normally go to any NBA franchise.[72][70][73] Thanks to their deal during the ABA–NBA merger, the Silnas made millions through the 1980s and at least $4.4 million per year through the 1990s.[73] From 1999 through 2002 the deal netted the Spirits' owners at least $12.53 million per year; from 2003–2006 their take was at least $15.6 million per year.[68][70] The two Silna brothers each get 45% of that television revenue per year and their attorney during the merger negotiations, Donald Schupak, receives 10%.[68] They credit their terrific deal to planning they had done ahead of the merger for the Virginia Squires owners; the Silnas had expected the Spirits and Colonels to enter the NBA but for the ailing Squires to be left out, and the Silnas thought up the television revenue deal as a way to treat the Squires' owners fairly if the Squires did not join the NBA with the other ABA teams.[68]"

    of course in the ABA's defense, it was the 70's, the NBA used to show the Finals on tape-delay in the middle of the night. That's how popular basketball was in those days..still...
  2. D1Willow

    D1Willow TRIBE Member

    I wonder if they send Jordan a gift basket every year for making Basketball.
  3. Bernnie Federko

    Bernnie Federko TRIBE Member

    Read the bit about St Louis getting paid for ever in Simmons latest book, The Book of Basketball.

    In his own words:

    2. Kentucky owner John Y. Brown received $3 million for folding his franchise, then spent half that money to buy Buffalo. So the four ABA teams that joined the NBA got crushed financially, but Brown bought in and pocketed $1.5 million? Huh? Meanwhile, the St. Louis owners struck the greatest mother lode in professional sports history, folding their shitty franchise for $2.2 million and one-seventh of the TV money from the four remaining ABA teams -- money they were guaranteed in perpetuity. In other words, they received four-sevenths of a cut of the TV contract every year forever. Through 2009, that cut was worth about $150 million. Just free money falling out of the sky, year after year after year after year.69

    (My thoughts: The Nets won two titles with Doc, only the league's signature player and a big reason for the merger, then got shafted to the degree that they sold Doc before the '77 season just to keep their franchise afloat. The Spirits had a terrible team that would have folded anyway -- no fan support, no assets that remotely compared to Doc, no appeal as an NBA market whatsoever -- and they somehow finagled a deal that was a hundred times better than New Jersey's deal. Go figure.)

    69.How many meetings do you think Stern had with high-powered lawyers from 1984 to 2009 where he tried to figure out ways to weasel out of the St. Louis pact, failed, then unleashed a parade of f- bombs and kicked everyone out of the conference room? The over/under has to be 39.5.

  4. fred

    fred TRIBE Member

    This is a great story

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