The worst fears of NBA fans across the Planet have been realized as “ESPN.com” has reported that NBA Commissioner David Stern has cancelled the first two weeks of the NBA regular season, after representatives from the NBA Players Association and NBA Team Owners were unable to agree to terms for a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement. With the regular season scheduled to get underway on November 1, the Commissioner stated that the two sides are “very far apart on virtually all issues. … We just have a gulf that separates us. The gap is so significant that we just can’t bridge it at this time. We certainly hoped it would never come to this.”
So far the games effected are scheduled between the first and the fourteenth of November, and with no further talks scheduled as of now, it is quite likely more games will be cancelled. Stern told reporters that it is highly unlikely that the Association would be able to play a full 82 game schedule. It would be the first reduced regular season since the NBA Lockout during the 1998-1999 campaign. Only 50 regular season games were played that year.
The work-stoppage could not have come at a worse time for the Association, after coming off one of the most successful seasons in NBA history. Momentum has been building over the last few years for the NBA, after having a hard time getting back the casual fans after the previous Lockout. Fans became intrigued with some of the young stars that have come into their own over the last few seasons; such as Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls, Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers, to name just a few.
The Association has shot itself in the foot, allowing these negotiations to drag on so long that they have effected the regular season. It is up to both sides at this point, how much they are willing to alienate their fan-base. What the Association has to remember is that the NBA is not the NFL. It is at best the third most popular sport in the country, lagging far behind football as well as Major League Baseball. The longer this work-stoppage continues, the more likely that the Association will risk losing the casual fan that helped the NBA have such strong growth over the past couple of years.