SBD/Issue 131/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Billy Hunter Responds To Claim That NBA Teams Will Lose $400M

Hunter Contends League's
Number Is Overstated

A month after NBA Commissioner Davis Stern declared NBA owners would lose $400M this season, NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter has disputed the number, according to Ken Berger of Hunter: “Based upon our review and what we've done thus far, we dispute the $400 million figure. And we plan to present our rebuttal to David and the owners at an appropriate time. Our contention is that the number's overstated." But Berger wrote “there appears to be little hope for bargaining to resume until after" July 1, when "owners and players will embark on what is expected to be the biggest free-agent signing period in NBA history without a clue as to how the financial landscape will look going forward.” Hunter: "I would hope to submit a proposal to the owners any time between May 1 and July 1, with the idea that we would obviously be available to spend a lot of time negotiating during the summer, when the players are available." The union's attorneys and accountants “have been reviewing a mountain of financial data turned over by the NBA” which the league says show “how dire its financial position is.” But the union sees “a mixture of accounting tricks, team mismanagement and the nearly two-year recession as the real culprits in a revenue decline they say is not nearly as large” as Stern has stated. Hunter: "The basis of our objection is just when it comes to general accounting principles. We think that there's been an overstatement, that some of the things that they discount should not be discounted because they relate to non-operating expenses and related parties." Asked if he had a more realistic figure for the league's losses this season, Hunter said, "No, I don't. But we will. We contend it's much less than the $400 million." Hunter specifically pointed to revenue sharing as a key issue. The owners “did not include a revenue-sharing plan in their initial proposal in January,” and Hunter said, "Revenue sharing will be a material piece of our proposal." Hunter did acknowledge that a work stoppage could hamper the league's own projections for growth in the coming years, particularly in international markets, and called "the mere discussion" of a lockout "almost foolish." Hunter: "A lockout would be devastating, there's no question about it. And I'm not so sure, in the face of a lockout, how many teams would actually survive it" (, 3/19).

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