The Biggest Losers

Credit: suite101.com

Owning an NBA team must be a terrible burden. Not only do 22 teams lose money, but also the combined losses are reportedly over $300 million, including the profitable teams!. What a shame for those poor, poor people. If I were an NBA owner, given that information, I would try to escape. No way would I want to be part of such a black hole.

And it looks like another ownership group escaped. The Atlanta Hawks will reportedly be sold to the owner of a chain of pizzerias in southern California. The devastating news, via ESPN.com:

The Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena will be sold to California developer and pizza chain owner Alex Meruelo, but the NBA team will remain in Atlanta, a person familiar with the deal said Sunday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because no official announcement has been made. The deal, subject to the approval of the NBA, is to be announced on Monday.

Meruelo confirmed the deal to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying “I’m a person who doesn’t give up. I want to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta.”

Atlanta keeps the team, although the much more sustainable NHL franchise is moving its business to Winnipeg, as the Hawks and the team’s arena will be owned by this LA maven.

The team’s old ownership group seemingly fought amongst themselves because the team was so costly. Then they ran the team on the cheap at times while at others overpaying for second-tier players. But no matter what they did, the team would lose money. Because that’s what NBA franchises do: lose money.

I have to ask some questions, though. What ever could propel this man, he who made a lot of money selling pizza, to buy a money loser like an NBA team? Is he living out a childhood dream, despite the costs of ownership? Or has the power of owning so many pizza joints gotten to his head, that he thinks he could own anything and succeed? Whatever the answer, there’s no chance this deal makes any sense for Meruelo.

But bigger questions than this remain. How could four teams (Pistons, Warriors, Sixers, Hawks) sell so easily given the awful system that’s set in place for the NBA? Four teams that, in all likelihood, could only hope to come close to a profit have been sold in the past year? Why would rich, successful millionaires invest in such dumb things? Are they misguided? Do they have the numbers backwards? Over $300 million in losses! Is David Stern forcing them into it? Are they sorry for being too successful and are making an attempt to decrease their net worths? Are aliens involved? And why are they keeping the team in Atlanta? The team is decent but no one shows up. Certainly they can move elsewhere and cut their losses by something! What are they thinking? Needless to say, these are all bad decisions. The NBA is a money pit, and these owners will never make their money back. Never ever.

I have one more question before I end my rant: is there even the slightest chance that these people are just smart investors, that NBA is in much better shape than we have been led to believe, and that they will receive a huge return on their investments? Or is that too silly to believe?

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Tags: New Ownership

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