A few weeks ago, the NBA finished one of its best seasons in recent memory, an awesome eight-month campaign with tons of great storylines and equally impressive TV ratings. Unfortunately, a Damocletian sword hung over the entire proceedings: Every informed fan knew that a lockout was probably going to come as soon as calendars flipped to July.
It is now the last day of June. Not surprisingly, the owners have informed the players and their union representatives that they will be locked out when the clock strikes midnight several hours from now. Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press has details:
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday and a final proposal from the players, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions.
"The gap is too great," Hunter said.
The CBA expires at midnight, after which all league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday.
Commissioner David Stern said "with some sadness" he would recommend later Thursday to the labor relations committee that the first lockout since the 1998-99 season be imposed.
"Needless to say we're disappointed that this is where we find ourselves," Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said.
Let me be frank: This news is a stone cold bummer. But it was also incredibly predictable as soon as we saw the first proposals from the owners to the players last summer. The sides seemed much too far apart given they only had intermittent meetings scheduled throughout the season.
So, yes, feel upset at this development. However, it's likely that you already faced this concept several months ago. The lockout was always a looming reality, and realistic people faced it long ago.
Plus, we can just focus on the NFL now, right? ... Wait, what?!