• Brian L. Barefield

"Silna Day" How Two Brothers Beat The NBA

Every July 1st since 2011 has been known as “Bobby Bonilla Day.” That day was deemed that after former Major League Baseball player Bobby Bonilla worked out a deal with the New York Mets to have 5.9 million dollars of his contract deferred for ten years at eight percent interest beginning July 1, 2011 and runs through 2035. That is 1.2 million dollars a year for you individuals using your fingers and toes trying to figure that out at home. After that deal is complete. Bonilla would have made more from it than from his five-year deal he had with the Mets during his first run with the team that made him the highest-paid player in baseball.

Wait. We can’t forget that this model franchise had a history of doing these types of deals in the past. Former Mets pitcher Bret Saberhagen has been receiving $250,000 per year since 2004 and will continue to receive that amount until 2029. Is there a such thing as a “Bret Saberhagen Day?”

We would love to think that the Bonilla and Saberhagen deals were the best deals ever negotiated in sports, but what if I told you that there is one that was even better, and it lasted over 38 years.

Does the names Ozzie and Daniel Silna ring a bell? The two brothers owned the Spirits of St. Louis basketball team in the American Basketball Association (ABA) before the league merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976. There were only four teams in the ABA that the NBA wanted out of the seven. Those teams were the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and the New York Nets (Brooklyn). The Virginia Squires folded the same year and the Kentucky Colonels owner John Y. Brown took the $3.3 million buyout from the NBA. That left the Silnas brothers left to deal with and that wouldn’t be easy after they turned down the same buyout offer.

After consulting with their lawyer, Ozzie and Daniel came back to the drawing board with the “Greatest Sports Deal” ever done. They got paid 2.2 million dollars for players such as M.L. Carr, Don Chaney, Caldwell Jones, Moses Malone, etc. Oh, and for my Houston Rockets fans. Head coach Mike D’Antoni was also on that team. The brothers also got 1/7th share of each of the four former teams’ “visual media” rights once they fully merged with the NBA.

They received that share of the NBA’s television revenue in perpetuity. That means they would receive money from the all television deals in the NBA for the rest of their lives. On the eve of the new television deal in 2015 that would pay them $24 billion over nine years, the NBA finally woke up and said, “We have to put an end to this.” After paying roughly $300-million to the Silnas brothers, the NBA settled with them for $500 million. Not bad for a pair of guys who would not cave in and settle to a huge conglomerate like the National Basketball Association.

What day should be declared “Silnas Brothers Day?” Oh, and why we at it. We might as well give Minnesota QB Kirk Cousin a day too since he finagled his way to $84 million guaranteed with no proven results.

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