It looks like predictions of a “nuclear winter” earlier this month were premature.
NBA owners and players agreed to a tentative agreement to end the 149-day lockout early Saturday morning.
NBA commissioner David Stern simply said: “We want to play basketball.”
While most Americans were looking for the best deals on Black Friday, players and owners were involved in a 15-hour negotiation session that ended with Stern, union executive director Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher, president of the players’ association, and others discussing the tentative deal without revealing specific details of the agreement.
There is still plenty of work to do, but both sides seem confident everything will get done in time for the first game of the season, which is expected to take place on Christmas Day.
If a majority on each side agrees the deal (15 of 29 owners because the NBA owns the New Orleans Hornets), then the league will kickoff the season with a tripleheader. Complicating things is the players associations decision to dissolve the union, which means they must drop their antitrust lawsuit before voting on the agreement. If all goes well, the first game of the season will be between the Knicks vs. Celtics, followed by a NBA Finals rematch between Miami and Dallas. Capping off the night will be Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
The league plans to play a 66-game season with training camp starting on Dec. 9., according to reports. Stern has said in the past that the league needs 30 days before players can hit the courts and fans can find their seats.
As for the All-Star game, ESPN reported that the game would be held in Orlando as scheduled, but a date for the All-Star game is not yet known.
Here are the times of the Christmas Day games:
- Celtics at Knicks at Noon on ESPN
- Miami at Dallas at 2:30 p.m. on ABC
- Chicago at Los Angeles at 5 p.m. on ABC
The schedule that was released prior to the lockout shows 11 games to be played the following day.
Playing on Christmas Day is important to the league because it has been known to be the kickoff to their national television schedule.
-With Associated Press