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NBA Revenue News, Presented Through A Funhouse Mirror

The NBA sent out a press release right around closing time on Friday alerting the world that the league did in fact have a great season, increasing total basketball-related income to $3.817 billion, a 4.8 percent bump. Included in the brief release were four bullet points, three of which are quite obviously written to help frame the NBA's pleas about suffocating losses due to (you guessed it) rising player salaries.

Those bullet points with some annotations are below.

Lines from the press release in bold. My annotations in normal fontface.

BRI increased by 4.8% from $3.643 billion in 2009-10 to $3.817 billion in 2010-11.

Awesomesauce. The league is healthy! Right ...?

Total player compensation also increased by 4.8% from $2.076 billion in 2009-10 to $2.176 billion in 2010-11.


But wait, considering that the NBA's salary system -- as approved unanimously by owners in 1999 and again in 2005 -- ties player salary to revenue, this makes total sense. As revenues rise, salaries rise. If revenues dip, salaries dip. If revenues blast into a new, uncharted galaxy, salaries blast into a new, uncharted galaxy. The two, revenue and salaries, are coupled.

This marks the sixth consecutive season that player compensation increased under the expired CBA.

Oh. Well, cool! That makes total sense, considering that this also marks the sixth consecutive season that league revenue increased under the expired CBA.

Total player compensation equaled 57% of BRI.

... as it is designed to under the salary system, which means that -- bar the doors, Sally, this is a big one -- the salary cap is working as designed.

The average player salary for the 2010-11 season was $5.15 million.

What a load of money for "average" players!

Over the six-year term of the expired CBA, the average player salary increased by a total of 16%.

What a huge increase! A 16 percent raise over six years? That's more than 2.5 percent per year! Meanwhile, NBA league revenues have increased 20.2 percent over the six-year term of the expired CBA.  Or 3.3 percent annually.

By the NBA's own numbers, revenues over this CBA grew faster than the average salary did. That bullet point is, unfortunately, missing from the NBA's release. Understandable, of course, as it hurts the NBA's case that player salaries and not self-imposed other expenses are to blame for the league's claimed losess.