Why NBA may have to prepare for legal battle with TNT

amazon, why nba may have to prepare for legal battle with tnt

From left to right: Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley on the TNT set.

The NBA should consider lawyering up to prepare for what could be a messy divorce with TNT.

On Wednesday, the Sports Business Journal's Tom Friend reported that the NBA is finalizing its media rights deals with ESPN, Amazon, and NBC, leaving longtime partner TNT out. However, Warner Bros. Discovery — TNT's parent company — could take legal action.

"Sources say the NBA is prepping its lawyers for a possible inquisition or lawsuit," Friend wrote.

WBD CEO David Zaslav recently told The Wall Street Journal's Joe Flint it has matching rights for third-party offers for carrying the NBA. Last week, CNBC's Alex Sherman noted both sides are determining whether the league can reject a potential match.

"The contractual wording is vague, and it's unclear if the NBA has full discretion to walk away from Warner Bros. Discovery if it matches the bid," wrote Sherman. "If Warner Bros. Discovery decides to match, and the NBA moves to choose NBCUniversal's offer, the sides may be headed for a lawsuit. Warner Bros. Discovery believes it's fairly well protected by the contractual language, one of [Sherman's sources] said."

Friend pointed out that WBD may have to pay over $2.6B to match NBC's bid, and it's not in a position to do that. It's reportedly over $40B in debt.

WBD could still take the league to court over the definition of matching rights. Don't be stunned if it does.

TNT has a 40-year relationship with the league and boasts the popular studio show "Inside the NBA," which features Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal.

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