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Inside the Nets Financials: A Mix of Real Losses and Unreal Accounting

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Deadspin has obtained audited financial statements for the Nets from the middle of the last decade as Lew Katz and Ray Chambers exited and Bruce Ratner entered. Bottom line of the 1,800-word piece is that some of the team's losses were real, some a product of special accounting rules for sports franchises and some just unexplained.

The financials cover a three year period from June 2003 to June 2006. (Some financials were provided to the New York State Legislature as part of the Atlantic Yards approval process). Although they are five years old, Tommy Craggs writes, "you can still see the roots of the argument that will have NBA owners, come midnight, again locking out their players. You can also see how a team makes money and how it pretends not to be making any money at all".

In particular, the report looks at 2003, the next to last year of the Katz-Chambers group, when the Nets made a profit, helped along by $4.8 million in playoff revenues and 2005, the second year of the Ratner era when the Nets had a real loss, but nowhere near what the public financials show.  (Craggs is mystified why the team lost so much that year, when any Net fan can tell you that's when the hard cuts under Ratner began.)