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The Big Leagues Go to WashingtonCongress and Sports Antitrust, 1951-1989$
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David George Surdam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039140

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039140.001.0001

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The Proposed NBA/ABA Merger 1971–1972

The Proposed NBA/ABA Merger 1971–1972

(p.223) 16 The Proposed NBA/ABA Merger 1971–1972
The Big Leagues Go to Washington

David George Surdam

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the Congressional hearings of 1971–1972 that addressed the petition of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the American Basketball Association (ABA) for partial antitrust exemptions for their proposed merger. Yale Law School lawyers analyzed the proposed merger, comparing it with the professional football merger: “the concerted action produces efficiencies which arguably outweigh whatever restraints on competition are involved.” They suggested thinking of leagues as being similar to “law partnerships, a firm.” This chapter first considers the arguments presented by basketball owners to justify a merger before discussing the views of economists Robert Nathan, Roger Noll, and Benjamin Okner, along with other pieces of evidence presented at the hearings, regarding the owners' claims of losses. It also assesses the implications of the proposed NBA–ABA merger for player rights and concludes with an overview of Nathan, Noll, and Okner's recommendations about the proposed merger.

Keywords:   merger, Congressional hearings, National Basketball Association, American Basketball Association, Robert Nathan, Roger Noll, Benjamin Okner, player rights, antitrust exemptions

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