After a marathon 15-hour meeting that took place on Friday in New York, the NBA Players Association and the nefarious Owners agreed to begin a shortened 66-game season on Christmas Day. The deal is still not yet official, with the handshake agreement needing to be ratified by the majority of players and owners.
However, training camp is slated to begin on December 9th, and three games have been scheduled for December 25th: The Boston Celtics will play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Miami Heat will take on the Dallas Mavericks in Texas, and the Chicago Bulls will travel to the Staples Center to take on the LA Lakers.
Please excuse us for a minute while we yelp-giggle in hysterical fashion for about thirty seconds.
Despite assumptions to the contrary, NBA Commissioner David Stern denied that recent litigation filed by the Players Association was the main motivation for the lockout’s end:
He denied the litigation was a factor in accelerating a deal, but things happened relatively quickly after the players filed a suit that could have won them some $6 billion in damages if the court ruled the lockout was illegal.
“For us the litigation is something that just 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 and we’ve got others who are dependent on us. And it’s always been our goal to reach a deal that was fair to both sides and get us playing as soon as possible, but that took a little time.”
The last lockout occurred in 1998, which was a sordid, tragic 50-game affair that began with Vin Baker and Shawn ‘Reign Man’ Kemp hideously fat and out of shape, and ended with Tim ‘Stone Buddha’ Duncan winning his first chip for the San Antonio Spurs, against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks.
NBA players in China are potentially screwed
Meanwhile, the smattering of locked-out NBA players currently playing in the Chinese Basketball Association need to start considering just exactly how they’re going to finagle themselves out of their deals.
The CBA specifically decided against allowing NBA talent to include opt-out clauses in their Chinese contracts, which would’ve let players leave their Chinese teams whenever it was in their best interests to do so. The CBA also only allowed free agents not under contract to sign deals with Chinese teams.
The full list of athletes who signed with Chinese teams due to the lockout includes (last NBA team in parentheses):
J.R. Smith, Zhejiang Golden Bulls (Denver Nuggets)
Kenyon Martin, Xinjiang Flying Tigers (Denver Nuggets)
Wilson Chandler, Zhejiang Lions (Denver Nuggets)
Yi Jianlian, Guangdong Southern Tigers (Washington Wizards)
Aaron Brooks, Guangdong Southern Tigers (Phoenix Suns)
Dan Gadzuric, Jiangsu Dragons (New Jersey Nets)
Josh Powell, Liaoning Dinosaurs (Atlanta Hawks)
Patty Mills, Xinjiang Flying Tigers (Portland Trail Blazers)
Since all players in China were free agents when they signed their CBA contracts, there’s no telling which NBA team might next acquire the services of any of the players above.
We’ll be looking forward to seeing how the likes of K-Mart and J.R. Smith (who’s been clashing with his team) find reasons to leave their CBA teams to return stateside.
Former Orlando Magic big man Earl Clark was allowed out of his contract, officially for “personal reasons” (his girlfriend is pregnant), and unofficially because he couldn’t get used to Chinese food.
We think it’s a cinch. If you really want a ticket out of China, simply ask an accomplice to acquire the flags of Tibet and Taiwan, have them throw them to you during the middle of a game (wrapped around a basketball would be fine), and wave them around the court while simultaneously shouting “FALUN GONG IN DA HOUSE!” over and over. That should do the trick, we reckon.
The only player allowed to opt-out of his CBA contract is former Washington Wizard Yi Jianlian, apparently simply because he’s a Chinese national.
And the player kicking himself the most right now must be Yao Ming’s old point guard Aaron Brooks, who signed a deal with the Guangdong Southern Tigers on November 17th, a little over a week before today’s glorious news of the lockout finally being resolved. Better get those flags ready, Aaron!