We in Sacramento know that you can find a way to blame everything on Kobe Bryant, so it's no surprise that the following narrative has now sprung up. ESPN's Brian Windhorst writes about the infamous letter to David Stern penned by eight small-market owners in 2006 asking for wholesale changes to the league's economic system. Those 2006 concerns are now driving the NBA lockout, with all owners seeking substantial cutbacks in player salary and a number of owners pushing hard for serious revenue sharing.
But the actual nudge toward this reality was, according to one of Windhorst's anonymous sources, the massive L.A. Lakers' TV deal signed last year.
"That Lakers' TV deal scared the hell out of everybody," one league official said. "Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn't fair that they didn't have to share it with the teams they're playing against."
The Lakers' deal with Time Warner Cable, which goes into effect in 2012, is worth $150-200 million per season. The Sacramento Kings, by comparison, make $14 million a season from local TV revenue.
While the structural issues existed before Jerry Buss acquired his newest vault of gold, the Lakers' new TV deal apparently only exacerbated them. In other words, Lakers TV made the income disparity in the NBA real.