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The story of a sports deal

Thirty years ago when the ABA merged with the NBA, two of the six teams were not invited to join, but the merger required unanimous approval. The owner of the Kentucky Colonels gave his assent for $3.3 million. But the owners of the St. Louis Spirit - the Silnas brothers - wanted a little something more. They got $3m, plus a share of future TV revenues of the four merging teams. In perpetuity.

In the early years, the Silnas' share amounted to $300,000 per year. And then came the flood of media money, the Magic and Michael eras, and lo, the Silnas are sitting pretty. They've turned down every buyout offer and withstood every attempt by the NBA to break the contract, collecting $168m in the process. The current haul is $15m per year.

That's the thumbnail sketch of a great story by Jonathan Abrams in today's LA Times. Link via Craig Newmark.