The New Jersey Nets lost more than $40 million in the 2008-09 season according to an analysis of public financial documents by CNBC's Darren Rovell. The documents, available because the previous owner of the Nets, Forest City Enterprises, is a publicly traded company, show a paper loss of more than $70 million, but Rovell notes that a big ticket item included in the balance sheet -- amortization of intangible assets -- isn't actually included in the league's operating income figures.
The Nets finished 14 games under .500 in 2008-09, and had the sixth-worst total attendance in the NBA. The Nets were still playing in the awful, antiquated and awful Izod Center at that point, despite constantly brewing plans to move to Brooklyn. (Those plans should be realized after the 2011-12 NBA season.) The Nets of East Rutherford -- they now play in Newark -- were always considered to be uniquely cursed: they had all the media costs of New York City and all the earning capacity of, well, East Rutherford, New Jersey. After trading Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, the Nets could no longer even boast a decent team.
It's in that context that the Nets lost a reported $44 million, which -- according to Rovell's numbers -- represent 9 percent of the NBA's losses in 2008-09.