A fan sends NBA Commissioner David Stern a message while watching the South… (J. Paul Carter / Associated…)
NBA LOCKOUT TIMELINE
It took 149 days, about 150 hours of negotiations, ultimatums and various doomsday scenarios, but the NBA and its players finally reached an agreement in principle on a labor deal.
A look at key events in the NBA lockout:
• July 1, 2011: The NBA locks out its players at 12:01 a.m. EDT as the collective-bargaining agreement expires. "We didn't see any options," Commissioner David Stern said. It's the NBA's third labor stoppage and the first since the shortened 1998-99 season.
The league claims 22 of its 30 teams are unprofitable. NBA owners want to sharply cut the players' 57% share of basketball revenue from the last deal. Players offer to cut their share to 54.3% and give up $500 million in revenue for five seasons, a gesture Stern dismissed as "modest."
Said Billy Hunter, executive director of the players' union: "Maybe we can now really begin to negotiate."
• Aug. 31: The NBA and the players' union meet for six hours; it's only the second negotiating session since the lockout began.
• Sept. 23: NBA postpones training camps indefinitely and scraps exhibition games through Oct. 15. Minnesota Timberwolves center Anthony Tolliver tweets: "I might go apply at Dairy Queen until this #NBAlockout ends. #freefood."
• Sept. 27: Players' union President Derek Fisher writes in a letter to players that there's a "divide" among NBA owners about their commitment to a "hard" salary cap. He tells players that owners can help solve the league's financial problems. "It's time for our large-market teams to share some of the wealth with each other."
• Oct. 1: NBA owners and players have their longest bargaining session since the lockout began, but make little progress. Hunter says the parties are "miles apart."
• Oct. 4: NBA cancels the rest of its exhibition season after labor talks fall apart. "Our guys have indicated a willingness to lose games," Hunter says. Stern says he'd ask league owners to accept a 50% split of basketball-related income, and the union responds that such a share was "unacceptable." Kobe Bryant attends the negotiations. "The development here is that I have time to play overseas," Bryant says.
• Oct. 10: Stern cancels the first two weeks of the regular season after a seven-hour negotiating session fails. Stern says there's "no chance" of a full, 82-game schedule being played.
• Oct. 18: NBA owners and players have a 16-hour bargaining session with federal mediator George Cohen that extends into the next day.
• Oct. 20: Negotiations break off when owners remain firm on a 50-50 split, ending a three-day run of 30 hours of discussions with a mediator. Hunter is "shocked" at the owners' take-it-or-leave-it proposal. Players cut their demand to 52.5% of basketball-related income.
• Oct. 26: Talks resume; a 15-hour session extends into the next day.
• Oct. 27: After a seven-hour meeting with NBA owners, Hunter says, "I think we're within striking distance of getting a deal."
• Oct. 28: Players and owners are unable to reach a deal after 51/2 hours of negotiations. Stern cancels all games through Nov. 30.
• Nov. 6: Another marathon bargaining session ends with an ultimatum from Stern: accept a sliding-scale offer where players could make 49% to 51% of BRI by Nov. 8 or the next offer will be less favorable.
• Nov. 7 Jeffrey Kessler, players' union attorney, blasts the NBA and Stern: "Instead of treating the players like partners, they're treating them like plantation workers."
• Nov. 8 The players' union turns down the NBA's latest offer.
• Nov. 10: NBA lockout reaches its 133rd day, surpassing the length of this year's NFL lockout, which led to the cancellation of only one exhibition game. Stern makes a modified offer to the union.
• Nov. 14: On the 138th day of the NBA lockout, players begin the process of disbanding the union so they can file an antitrust suit against the league. Stern warns the season is "now in jeopardy."
• Nov. 15: Players file antitrust lawsuits against the league in federal courts in California and Minnesota.
• Nov. 22. Negotiations resume between lawyers for the players and the NBA.
• Nov. 26: After another marathon bargaining session, the sides reach a tentative deal and expect a 66-game regular season to start Christmas Day.