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To prove this point, all one has to do is look at the NFL. Sure, pro football has some moribund and pathetic franchises in Jacksonville, Oakland, Minnesota and Buffalo, but none can claim to have lost money in any single year.
The reason is that the league shrewdly employs a revenue-sharing system that both holds up owners who can't make any money on their own and doesn't cut too far into the coffers of the revenue-generating franchises.
This allows those lowly teams to spend more on players, thereby raising the quality of the on-field product. The Raiders, Jags, Vikings and Rams have had some runs of poor years recently, but each had at least a 7-9 record last season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The Vikings are the only exception in that group, and they were a Brett Favre interception away from the Super Bowl just two seasons ago.
Nobody stays down in the NFL for too long because of revenue sharing, and the teams that perennially contend (Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Indy, New England and Atlanta) are the teams that are smarter than everybody else anyway—whether in evaluating talent, finance or business.
The NBA needs revenue sharing to hold up the Sacramentos, New Orleans, Charlottes and Minnesotas. The league doesn't benefit, financially or competitively, from having teams go 17-65 like the Timberwolves do every year. Dr. Jerry Buss wouldn't take kindly to buoying the frivolous Maloofs' sinking ship in Sacramento, but for the health of the league, he needs to come around on it.
The owners aren't trading blows with the players on this issue; they're bashing each other. The rich owners have no interest in supporting the strapped ones, implying that they don't care if those franchises are folded, moved or otherwise altered because of financial hardship.
The writing is on the wall: 22 of the league's 30 teams, nearly three-quarters, lose money because the eight teams that make money are allowed to keep it all for themselves. The owners respond to the players by saying that it doesn't matter how they lost $340 million in one of the league's best seasons ever, only that they lost it.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves and Kings play to half-empty arenas with D-League rosters because their owners are fighting for every penny, looking to shed anything they can off of payrolls that are already meager.
Revenue sharing is one of several creative solutions to the problem, but the owners' stubbornness and insistence that the players give up some of their privileges will prevent it from ever coming to fruition.