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October 4, 2011

NBA Lockout Allows Owners To Cheat Fans, Embrace Greed

The NBA lockout will reach a head on Tuesday, all because the league's owners can't get enough money and refuse to prioritize anything over the quest for wealth.

by Tom Ziller

In the NBA, fans aren't just customers. We are investors. We bankroll the whole operation. Of the $2 billion spent on building and renovating NBA arenas since 2000, $1.75 billion of it has been public money. Without a public willing to play Stern's extortionist games -- ask Seattle what happens if you refuse to build a gym on the league's terms -- the NBA would be hosting its biggest games in rinky-dink arenas, or worse, on college campuses. Instead, the public plays along and bites on the threats, Stern's NBA rakes in $4 billion a year and owners have the luxury of demanding a bigger slice.

You wonder how a player like Antoine Walker can go broke after making $108 million in the NBA? Ask how [Phoenix Suns owner Robert] Sarver can do the same thing on a much grander (if less stylish) scale. Ask how the mighty Maloof brothers can crush their family's empire and take a whole city's sports identity down with it. Ask how Bruce Ratner can burn through stacks of money like firewood without even one eye on the product on the court. But the biggest difference is that when Antoine Walker burns his loot, the guy has to shimmy down to Puerto Rico and to the D-League to making a living. He has get back on his feet on hustle. Sarver? He gets a bailout. The Maloofs? They pawn off one of their dad's businesses. Ratner? He remembers that the Nets he lost so much money on were simply Vaseline for a real estate project in Brooklyn that will make his company billions more than an NBA team could ever be worth.


Posted by eric at October 4, 2011 11:09 AM