It’s back! It’s actually back!The NBA, barring an unforeseen veto by players or owners, will officially begin a 66-game season Christmas Day.
All it took was 184 hours, 25 bargaining sessions and nearly five months.
“We look forward to opening on Christmas Day,” Adam Silver, the NBA’s deputy commissioner, told reporters after a final 15-hour session in the wee hours of Saturday morning. “We’re excited to bring NBA basketball back. That’s most important.”
That is what’s most important. And now basketball fans eagerly anticipate opening the greatest present of all Dec. 25: tip-off in an NBA arena.
While the official schedule is yet to be unveiled, it’s believed that opening day will feature the same originally scheduled triple-header with matchups between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, and Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Training camps and free agency are tentatively scheduled to begin simultaneously on Dec. 9. That will begin a two-week scramble to finalise rosters and create cohesion in preparation for a hectic schedule.
Teams will only play, on average, an additional two games per month, but they’ll also be forced to play at least one – and up to three – back-to-back-back sets.
There’s also a chance playoff matchups will feature back-to-back games.
The season will be extended to the end of April, with the playoffs and finals each pushed back a full week.
Teams will play 48 conference games and 18 non-conference games, which means some teams won’t travel to every opponent’s arena. That will come as sad news for some fans hoping to see Kobe Bryant’s Lakers and the Miami Heat’s Big 3.
But their disappointment should pale in comparison to the fact that only 16 games were lost on the 2011 season.
We wait in trepidation as both sides finalise B-list issues ranging from drug testing to age limits, and for majority approval of the 30 NBA owners and 430-member player’s association, but there is little reason to believe either side would vote against approval.
Which means we are less than one month away from NBA basketball.
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