Sports

NBA Lockout Over; Games to Start on Christmas Day

| by Alex Groberman

They say nobody cares about the NBA until Christmas Day, right? Well, lucky for those people – that’s exactly when the season is scheduled to start in 2011.

Somehow, by the grace of God, millionaire players and billionaire owners found it within themselves to come to terms on a deal that would open the doors to a business known for generating $4 billion per year.

According to multiple reports, a tentative handshake deal has been put in place between players and owners that will allow for a 66-game 2011-12 season beginning on Christmas Day. The fine points were reportedly worked out at about 3 a.m. on Saturday, after a 15-hour, last-ditch negotiating effort that didn’t look like it would even happen just 48 hours earlier.

“We’ve reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations,” the league’s commissioner, David Stern, said, “but we’re optimistic that that will all come to pass, and that the NBA season will begin on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, with a tripleheader.”

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Training camps will open on December 9.

While it hasn’t been confirmed as of yet, most expect the three Christmas Day games to be the ones already on the schedule: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks, Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers.

The players are said to have given in to a reduction of up to $300 million salaries per year – good for $3 billion over the course of the expected 10-year deal. One caveat to that, however, is that both sides are expected to have an opt-out clause six years in.

A deal can’t be recognized as “official” until it is ratified by a simple majority of the 30 teams and a simple majority of the 400-plus players.