Of course this was before the Bird/Johnson rivalry of the '80s, which caused the TV revenues to explode. Although the Silnas haven't sold a ticket in over 35 years, they have received approximately $255 million from the NBA since the deal was made. Not a bad payoff for not being invited to the party!
The play by play man for the Spirits?
|A young Bob Costas|
The Spirits were not included in the merger, but the Silna brothers nonetheless managed to turn it into one of the greatest deals in the history of professional sports. 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. As the NBA's popularity exploded in 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 30-plus years, the Silnas have collected over $200 million from the NBA, despite the fact that the Spirits never played an NBA game.Click here for the complete article.