(WMC-TV) - Tennessee Grizzlies and owners are disagreeing over Tennessee tax on athletes.
Players for the Memphis Grizzlies and every visiting NBA opponent pay a Tennessee professional privilege tax of $2,500 per game. It can go up to $7,500 per year. Memphis Redbirds and their visiting opponents do not.
In Nashville, players for the NHL's Predators and their visiting opponents pay the same state tax. Yet, players for the NFL's Titans, NASCAR drivers who race at Bristol, and players for minor league baseball's Nashville Sounds, Knoxville Smokies and Chattanooga Lookouts do not.
In essence, the Grizzlies and other basketball players are getting taxed to play in Tennessee while other sports entities are not.
NBA Player Association counsel member David Kiefer feels so strongly about the 'unfairness of the tax' that he returned early from his honeymoon and drove to Nashville to show his opposition.
"While it is difficult to look through the smoke and mirrors...It is very easy to see why the tax is unconstitutional," explained Kiefer.
Grizz Tony Allen, better known as The Grindfather, made a visit to Capitol Hill in Nashville to lobby against the state's so-called jock tax.
"All I did was put myself in attendance and let them know, you know, I won't be having it. Because I look back when I was young and I was one of those guys who was getting lower income from the NBA, that $2500, that $7500, that probably adds up," explained Allen.
Professional athletes, regardless of which team they play for, get charged a tax of $2,500 per game played in the state of Tennessee. The maximum is $7,500. Visiting players who play $5,000 just to play twice.
"They targeted two fields and it kinda surprised me. I (was) in attendance making a stand," continued Allen.
The owners of the Grizzlies are arguing to continue the tax. They claim the tax was a motivator for them to purchase the team and the extra money goes to the FedEx Forum.
75 NBA players lost money on games played in Tennessee last season and "many more played for essentially nothing".