After a 149-day lockout, the NBA announced this weekend that owners and players had finally reached a tentative deal on a collective bargaining agreement that will save the season. Well, 66 games of it. The season will start with a much-anticipated tripleheader on Christmas. While some questions still linger, some sportswriters have already begun to speculate what the short free agency and training camp periods could mean for their hometown teams.
As people are getting geared up for the season, some warn that things aren't exactly back to normal just yet. "It's nonsensical to declare winners and losers. Everybody lost. Just leave it at that," says Jeff Schultz in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. So what should we make of the new deal? Sportswriters sound off:
We'll get over it: "You cheer because the NBA is back with a season the way it should be. A 66-game schedule that begins with three marquee games on Christmas? Are you kidding me? They should do that every season," says Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times. "The NBA is back, and right on time, the games now filled with extra meaning, the playoffs potentially filled with different teams." All is well again.
The game has been hurt: "If the players had any rights trampled during negotiations, they did a lousy job of communicating it. They lacked unity and, until filing an antitrust lawsuit late in the game, an obvious plan," says David Haugh in the Chicago Tribune. And David Stern seized on that. "But both sides suffered from the fact that, in lively cities such as Chicago, not enough people missed the NBA... The indifference reinforced the league needed the public more than the public needed the league."
TV contracts were too important: "There will be an NBA season; Because they couldn't afford to flush almost a billion dollars in TV revenue, the Grinches of greed gave it back to us," says Mike Wise in The Washington Post. "The three games played on Dec. 25 are a key component in the annual $930 million the league and its players receive from their broadcast partners (about one-quarter of the $4 billion that would have been lost with a canceled season)." That's what this deal was really about.
This deal helps the Bucks...: "The NBA commissioner had allowed the game to spiral out of control in so many distasteful ways," says Michael Hunt in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "and it was becoming very hard for a small-market franchise like the Bucks to do business." The league was getting a bit too top-heavy with a few dominant teams. "It's incumbent upon the Bucks to develop talent, keep the payroll commensurate to market size, and play well enough to sell tickets. But it's up to the league to give the Bucks a fighting chance to keep the players they develop." They appear to be trying to help.
... And the Celtics? "It's fair to say the Celtics got most of what they wanted regarding the schedule. There being 16 fewer games will help a team that almost certainly couldn't survive 82 in one piece. But the fact that the 66 they'll play will be squeezed into four months isn't the most promising prospect for Team AARP," says Steve Bulpett in the Boston Herald.