Here are some numbers to give you an idea of what I am talking about: In the NFL, the home team splits the gate 60-40 with the the away team. In the NBA, the home teams keep everything. In the NFL 70%-75% of team revenue comes from revenue sharing. In the NBA it is only 20%-25%. In the MLB 35% of each teams local media revenues (TV, Radio, etc.) are put into a pot and redistributed. There is no such agreement in the NBA. In the NBA $49 million was redistributed for revenue sharing (via the lux tax and the escrow system) in 2008, while the MLB redistributed $300 million in 2005.
Look at the NBA team income distribution from last year: Outside of the Spurs, the small market teams are struggling, while the large markets are thriving. The discrepancy is only going to get larger as the league is handing off local digital rights to the individual teams. Of course, the large market teams will pocket a ton of money, while the small markets will hardly see a dime from this arrangement.
I’ve long contended that the NBA is the happy-medium of sports CBAs. The NFLPA is a joke, where they sacrifice the long-term health and support of their established players so that kids who have done nothing can get paid insane amounts of money which automatically irritates fans. And then of course their contracts aren’t guaranteed, which makes sense considering how physically punish and brutal the sport they play is. MLBPA on the other hand treats the owners like they’re spoiled children. “No, mommy, I don’t want that pony! i want the blue pony!” “Okay, schnookums! Here’s $120 million for you to play a sport in which you’re dominant if you perform a task 3 out of 10 times. ” The NFL marginalizes their larger markets while MLB completely rolls over on their small market teams and allows for cheap owners to continue to suckle at the teat of successful teams who in turn get to completely dominate and spend their way to victory.
Which is why this is such an opportunity for the NBAPA to significantly help their situation and the league. They’ve got the best system. It just needs to be tweaked. Help teams like the Bucks and Pacers, who have proven their fanbases can be rabid as long as they have any help to compete with the larger markets. It’s a win-win across the board for everyone but the Knicks and Lakers. And Dolan’s not doing anything productive with the money anyway, and Buss can comfort himself in his bed of money with the ceiling spackled with gold from the championship trophies.