The greatest deal in sports history
Los Angeles: Ozzie Silna, who turned a fading American Basketball Association franchise into a four-decade windfall of nearly $US800 million from the NBA in what’s commonly called the greatest deal in sports history, has died at age 83.
Silna’s younger brother and Spirits of St. Louis co-owner Daniel Silna told The Associated Press that his brother’s funeral was held Thursday. Ozzie Silna died Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital after a brief illness, his brother said. The two brothers made their millions without having to pay players, build arenas or hire coaches. They only had to sit back and cash the cheques. Banking on an eventual ABA-NBA merger, they bought the failing Carolina Cougars of the ABA in 1974 for about $1 million and promptly moved the team to St. Louis, then the biggest American city without a pro basketball team. After the 1975-76 season the NBA agreed to a merger, accepting four of the six remaining teams into the league. The Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs got in. The Kentucky Colonels, and the Spirits, did not. Colonels owner John Y. Brown received a $US3 million payoff. The Silnas did not go away so easily, scoring what at the time seemed a token concession from the league but became a legendary coup and jackpot.-