Spirits of St. Louis

The Spirit of Saint Louis

The Spirit of Saint Louis

The pictured airplane is the sister to the real Spirit of St. Louis, the plane that Charles Lindbergh first flew across the Atlantic Ocean. The real Spirit is in the Smithsonian in Washington DC. This sister Spirit is in the Missouri History Museum, located in Forest Park. This sister Spirit was built for the 1957 film, The Spirit of St. Louis, starring Jimmy Stewart.

The Spirits of St. Louis were one of two teams still in existence at the 1976 end of the American Basketball Association (ABA) that did not survive that league’s merger with the National Basketball Association (NBA). The owner of the other non-surviving franchise was placated with a $3.3M payout that allowed him to buy another NBA team, but the owners of the Spirits struck an unusual and strangely prescient deal with the NBA. The brothers Ozzie and Dan Silna acquired the future television money from the four teams that did join the NBA, a one-seventh share from each franchise, in perpetuity. Thirty-five years ago, when this deal was struck, it didn’t seem as unbelievable as it does now.

As of 2012 it is estimated that the NBA has paid the Silna brothers over a quarter of a billion dollars. The NBA has attempted to buyout the brothers a number of time, but no deal has ever been reached. Not bad for a team that hasn’t played one minute of basketball in over 35 years. As an additional aside, Bob Costas was the team’s announcer, before the ABA folded.

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