nba players & owners reached a tentative agreement early saturday to end the 149-day lockout with the intention of opening the delayed 2011-2012 season on christmas day. neither side provided many specifics but said the only words players & fans wanted to hear. "we want to play basketball," said nba comissioner david stern.
after a secret meeting earlier this week, both sides negotiated more than 15 hours friday to try & save the season. this handshake deal, however, still must be ratified by the players & the owners. stern said it was "subject to a variety of approvals & very complex machinations, but we're optimistic that all will come to pass & that the nba season will begin december 25."
barring a change in scheduling, the season will open with a triple header. the new york knicks will host the boston celtics, followed by the miami heat at the dallas mavericks & finally, the chicago bulls versus the los angeles lakers. president obama, after finishing a basketball game at fort mcnair in washington, gave a thumbs-up when told of the settlement. "all i feel right now is finally," said dwayne wade.
the league plans a 66-game season & aims to open training camps december 9. ironically, just 12 days after talks broke down, stern declared the nba could be headed to a "nuclear winter." the all-star game is scheduled to be held in orlando, yet no date was finalized. union executive director billy hunter said, "we thought it was in both of our interest to try to reach a resolution & save the game & to be able to provide the kind of superb entertainment the nba historically has provided."
a majority on each side is needed to approve the agreement. the nba needs votes from 15 of 29 owners. the nba owns the new orleans hornets. stern said the labor relations committee plans to discuss the agreement later saturday & expects them to endorse it & recommend to the full board. the union needs a simple majority from its 430-plus members. but their process is a bit more complicated.
the players dissolved the union november 14. they must drop their anti-trust lawsuit in minnesota & re-form the the union before voting on the deal. also, because the union disbanded, a new collective bargaining agreement can be completed only once the union re-forms. drug testing & other issues still must be negotiated between the league & the players. said stern, "we're very pleased we've come this far...there's still a lot of work to do."
participating in the talks for the league were stern, deputy commissioner adam silver, san antonio spurs owner & chairman of the labor relations committee peter holt, along with attorneys rick buchanan & dan rube. the players were represented by hunter, president derek fisher, vice president maurice evans, attorney ron klempner & economist kevin murphy.
the owners locked out the players july 1. both sides spent arduous months battling over division revenues & other changes owners wanted in a new collective bargaining agreement. they said they lost hundreds of millions of dollars in each year of the former deal, ratified in 2005. they wanted a system where big-market teams wouldn't have the ability to outspend their smaller counterparts. the players fought those changes, not wanting to see any teams taken out of the market when they become free agents.
said silver, "this was not an easy agreement for anyone. the owners came in having suffered substantial losses & 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 & i think that's what we saw today."
stern opined despite some "bumps" friday evening, "the greater good required us to knock ourselves out & come to this tentative understanding." he denied litigation was a factor in accelerating a deal, but things happened quickly after the players filed a suit which could have won them $6 billion in damages if the court ruled the lockout was illegal.
"for us the litigation is something that has to be dealt with," stern said. "it was not the reason for the settlement. the reason for the settlement was we've got fans, we've got players who would like to play & we've got people who are dependent on us. and its always been our goal to reach a deal that was fair to both sides & get us playing as soon as possible, but that took a little time." this was the second shortened season in nba history. the 1998-99 lockout reduced the season to 50 games.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.