The great­est deal in sports his­tory

Fiji Sun - - Sports - Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

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.-

Ozzie Silna.

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