Lester Munson far more sanguine about NBA lock out

I was listening to ESPN Radio this weekend. I heard ESPN’s legal analyst Lester Munson speak about the NBA Lockout. He is far more optimistic about the situation than most others I have heard.

Munson makes a compelling case. He believes David Stern’s wailing cries of poverty are largely bullshit. According to Munson, the NBA’s operating profile is closer to the one drawn by Forbes magazine than the one pled by David Stern.

According to Forbes, only 7 NBA teams lose money, and most NBA teams enjoy handsome operational profits. In fact, the combined losses for the “Sorry 7” — $25.5 million, according to Forbes — are miniscule compared to the estimated profits realized by the rest of the NBA. (For example, according to Forbes numbers the Chicago Bulls alone made almost double the amount lost by the “Sorry 7”)

So who is telling the truth here, Forbes or Stern? Munson believes it is Forbes, and I now lean towards the same view. He points to the fact that the Forbes numbers have been in line with the “leaked” financials of the New Orleans Hornets and the recent sale prices paid for NBA teams. He makes a compelling case.

And if Forbes numbers are correct, that changes the whole game.  If the majority of NBA franchises actually make money through operations, then obviously they stand to lose money by not operating.  In that case, the majority of NBA teams have a strong incentive to strike a deal with the NBAPA in a timely manner.

So I guess that makes me feel a little more optimistic.  If in fact Stern was floating a canard, maybe things will move quicker than I have assumed. But will things move quickly enough to avoid another tainted season, like 1999-2000? I doubt it.  And as one who likes to analyze basketball history by the numbers, that bums me out.


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