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A Fan's Notes

One man's hobby makes a complex labor agreement accessible to all

Few fans give more back to the sport they love than Larry Coon (below). Since 1999, the 49-year-old IT director at UC Irvine has been deciphering—mostly for his own amusement—the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, a 600-page thicket of rules, limits and loopholes. In May, Coon published the third version of his Salary Cap FAQ (he's done one for each new CBA of the last 13 years), a 60,000-word web document referred to by writers, fans and front offices.

Back in March, Trail Blazers G.M. Neil Olshey, who was then the Clippers' VP of basketball operations, told the Los Angeles Times, "[The FAQ] helps us because the more educated the fans are on the vehicles that you need to get things accomplished, the more they have realistic expectations."

Coon's primer explains everything from how the luxury tax is calculated to how much players are fined for technical fouls. He isn't paid for his work, which makes him an impartial sounding board for team executives exploring trade possibilities. "It's very common in computer science for people to donate their time on open source software projects, and [my work on the CBA is similar to] that," he says.