Welcome Back, NBA!

After 149 depressing, painful, NBA-less days, the NBA has reached a tentative agreement with the players to end the lockout.

We are back in business! After a 15 hour bargaining session on Friday, Billy Hunter and David Stern emerged from the meeting room, together, to a joint press conference:

David Stern: Well, we’ve reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations but we are optimistic that will all come to pass and the NBA season will begin December 25th, Christmas Day, with a triple-header. I won’t give you the details to tune in yet. We are very pleased that we have come this far. There is a lot of work to be done in a lot of places, with a lot of committees and player groups and alike but we are optimistic that it will hold and we will have ourselves an NBA season.

Billy Hunter: I want to announce on behalf of those who are gathered here, Derek (Fisher) and Maurice (Evans), that we are happy that we have been able to resolve and reach a tentative litigation settlement with regards to many issues that are pending for the various courts. We are going to turn it all over to the lawyers here and let them work out the details and we’ll then be able to talk further as that process proceeds.

We now know a couple more things:

    The 2011-2012 NBA season will be shortened. Likely will be around a 66 game season.
    The season will start on Christmas day with a triple header: Knicks vs. Celtics at 12, Heat vs. Mavericks at 2:30, Lakers vs. Bulls at 5.

Well, I would have loved to start the season on time, but considering the circumstances, this is the best case scenario. Once the players filed their suits, both sides knew they had one shot left at saving the season. If we passed November 28th without a deal, Christmas day games would have been out of the picture, as would a 60 game season. Both of these losses would have given the Owners no reason to bargain with the players and leave the deal to the courts to figure out. Who knows? The courts could have taken 1, maybe even 2 years to sort this mess out.

Fortunately, we did not get that far. I stayed optimistic throughout the lockout because I thought ABC, TNT, ESPN would provide enough pressure to the league to get a deal done. While both sides missed out on hundreds of millions, they were able to recapture the highlight of the regular NBA season: Christmas day games.