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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Assigning blame for NBA losses

By Henry Abbott

The NBA is fantastically popular, but says it is losing quite a lot of money.

In most businesses, the conversation would then turn to management -- are they doing a good enough job?

And yet in the bizarro world of the NBA, that very management team hypes the losses with the assumption that just about everybody will blame them on the employees. Meanwhile, Nate Silver of The New York Times digs into the publicly available financial data surrounding the NBA and says, essentially: Gotcha! Your league is doing much better than you said!

Silver found that when you adjust for various bookkeeping trickery, integrate data from Forbes and Financial World and ignore what the league says, the best guess is that the league actually made money last year.

And yet the league insists the model is broken, prompting this tweak tweet:

If David Stern really thinks the NBA lost $370 million last season, shouldn't he have fired himself?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Click the link above and you'll see that Silver writes this in jest -- his reporting strongly suggests the league is not losing money at all. But the "bad management" line of conversation is an interesting one. To the extent the league complains of losses, should the league's leaders be pointing the fingers of blame at themselves? Tough to say.