It's a deal that has cost the Nets tens of millions of dollars over the course of their history. When the ABA and NBA merged, the four teams that entered the NBA, including the Nets, agreed to give 1/7th of their national TV revenue to the owners of one of the teams left behind, the Spirits of St. Louis.
As those TV rights have grown, the Nets have lost money and a competitive advantage. This year, for example, the Nets received $26.25 million after paying off the Spirits' owners, the two Silna brothers and their lawyers. The Knicks received $31 million. After the Nets, Nuggets, Spurs and Pacers ponied up, the Silnas et al received $19 million...for nothing.
Now, the owners could be vulnerable. They're being sued by the trustee in the Bernie Madoff scandal. He's claiming they received some ill-gotten gains early in the scandal. And the Pacers want the other teams to join them in a suit to end what many call "The Greatest Sports Deal of All Time".
Revisiting ‘The Greatest Sports Deal Of All Time’ - Monte Burke - Forbes