When news that a group of Seattle investors has agreed to buy the Sacramento Kings in a deal that values the team at $565 million, Miami Heat star LeBron James' first public thought about the deal referenced last season's NBA lockout.
Remembering how NBA owners locked out the players in order to lower the percentage of league revenue earmarked for player salaries to 51% from 57%, James found it more than a bit funny that the Kings franchise had appreciated 342% since the Maloof family acquired the team in 1999. So he tweeted his thoughts on Sunday night.
"So the Kings getting sold for 525M!! And the owners ain't making no money huh? What the hell we have a [lockout] for. Get the hell out of here," James tweeted. "I can't hate on their hustle," he added in a later tweet.
During the lockout, NBA owners cited years of accounting losses to convince the players to accept a lower portion of league revenue. 22 out of 30 teams were running net losses, the league argued in 2011. The league ended up canceling 18 games of the 2011-12 regular season, and players and owners lost $400 million each as a result of lost revenue.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Maloofs paid $156 million to acquire the Kings, first joining the team as minority owners then buying the remaining portion of the team in 1999. The Kings might have lost money in the last 15 years (Forbes reports the team has lost $6.2 million over the last three years), but the Maloofs, who will sell 65% of their stake to the Seattle group, still earned a profit of over $200 million on the sale.
The NBA's current collective bargaining agreement does not expire until 2017 at the earliest (when either players or owners can opt out). James' tweet will not lead to any change in the status quo for now (though he could be fined by NBA Commissioner David Stern for the tweet), but he has shown that the players are continuing to pay attention, and the NBA's next labor disagreement could be just as acrimonious as the 2011 lockout was.