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'We're in a transformational period': Inside the NBA's ongoing fight to regain its financial footing

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Stephen A. celebrates the resurgence of the Knicks (2:06)

Knicks fan Stephen A. Smith breaks down how the Knicks have finally reclaimed their spot as the kings of NYC. (2:06)

As NBA revenues plummeted amid a time of largely empty arenas, New York Knicks owner Jim Dolan made a case for suspending the league's revenue-sharing requirements for the year. If the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers weren't profitable in a pandemic year, why should they still be required to pay out of pocket to small markets?

The Knicks and Lakers -- mostly due to massive local television packages -- deliver the largest share of payments to small-market teams. As an ownership planning committee studied the questions of altering the revenue-sharing system for the year, Dolan pushed his case on board of governors conference calls and even cc'd a letter to his 29 peers ahead of Thursday's BOG vote on the issue -- which, sources tell ESPN, included some smaller-market owners siding with Dolan.

Never has Dolan been considered much of a consensus-builder within the league, but he did gather some voting support -- although not nearly enough to overturn the revenue-sharing plan, sources told ESPN.