66 Game basketball season to start on Christmas
After a marathon negotiating session, NBA players and owners have reached a tentative agreement that would end the lockout.
Even though on November 14th the players association disbanded after rejecting Commissioner David Stern’s so-called last offer, the two sides got together again Friday in a New York hotel room. Just after 3 a.m. Saturday, word was released that a deal had been reached.
Stern and Billy Hunter, the leader of the players’ union, announced at a joint news conference that a tentative agreement had been reached. The league plans to begin the 2011-12 season on Christmas Day with regular games that include the Los Angeles Lakers playing against the Chicago Bulls.
Stern said, “We’ve reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations, but we’re optimistic that will all come to pass and that the NBA season will begin Dec. 25.”
The deal, which must be accepted by vote from the majority of players and at least 15 of 29 independent ownerswould provide for a 66-game season, with December 9th marking the opening of training camps.
Hunter said, “We thought it was in both of our interest to try to reach a resolution and save the game and to be able to provide the kind of superb entertainment the NBA historically has provided.”
An ESPN.com report says that players will receive a little more than 50 percent of basketball-related income, a point over which the two sides had fought for some time.
Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said, “This was not an easy agreement for anyone…The owners came in having suffered substantial losses and feeling the system wasn’t working fairly across all teams. I certainly know the players had strong views about expectations in terms of what they should be getting from the system. It required a lot of compromise from both parties’ part, and I think that’s what we saw today.”
Stern had claimed all along that roughly 30 days would be needed from a new collective bargaining agreement to the opening of the season. With that in mind, an agreement had to be in place by this weekend (or perhaps Monday), at least in principle, for the season to open on Christmas Day. For all this to happen, the union will have to re-form and ratify the new CBA.