DEAL OF THE CENTURY
The Silna brothers and their partner Donald Schupak make $13 million a year from the NBA.
The do not own a team. They are not players. They have never been players. They do not sell NBA merchandise. They do not have any association with the NBA except for receiving their yearly check.
Are they blackmailing Michael Jordan?
Are they the brother-in-laws of commissioner David Stern?
No. But, they might have made the deal of the century.
Dan and Ozzie Silna were the owners of the St. Louis Spirit basketball team of the old ABA. The American Basketball Association operated from the 1960s until 1976. The Spirit belonged to the ABA for only two years and compiled a record of 67-101, and featured players such as Marvin "Bad News" Barnes and John "Fly" Williams.
In 1976, the ABA merged with the NBA but only four teams were allowed to continue. The teams that didn't become a part of the NBA were bought out.
John Y. Brown who owned the Kentucky Colonels was paid $3 million.
The Silnas accepted $800,000 less but got something extra. Their agreement calls for the four team that became a part of the NBA- Indiana, San Antonio, Denver and New Jersey to share 1/7th of their television money in perpetuity.
In the mid 1970s, the NBA television contract was almost worthless. There wasn't a lot of interest in the NBA, and had sunk so low that the 1976 NBA championship game was broadcast on tape delay.
Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan changed all of that. Their emergence in the NBA in the 1980s caused fan interest to explode. The television audience shot up as well as the prices paid for the television rights.
How did the Silnas get such a deal?
Their partner, attorney Dan Schupak, pushed it through.
"Schupak just wore everyone out with his demands," said Mike Goldberg, former ABA legal counsel.
The teams just gave in.
Indiana president Donnie Walsh has tried for years to buy out the trio's share of the over $2 billion television contract.
"Perpetuity is a long time," said Walsh.