NBA Cancels First Two Weeks of Season

David Karp/AP Photo

The Dallas Mavericks’ defense of their 2011 NBA Championship title will have to wait, indefinitely.

NBA Commissioner David Stern canceled the first two weeks of the NBA season Monday after owners and players failed to reach agreement on a labor dispute despite 13 hours of negotiations over two days.

“We remain very, very far apart on virtually all issues,” Stern told reporters in New York Monday.  “We just have a gulf that separates us.”

“We are so far apart.  We can’t close the gap,” Stern said, adding that it’s doubtful a full 82-game season can be played.

The players and owners of the NBA’s 30 teams are fighting over how to divide $4 billion in league revenues, and over the league’s system of rules that govern team payrolls and player salaries.

Opening night was scheduled for Nov. 1 but will now not be played until Nov. 14, assuming the two sides can reach agreement by then.  The cancellation includes 100 games in all.

Representatives for the players and and the owners said they would remain in contact, but didn’t schedule additional formal talks.  If no labor deal is reached by the end of the month, the remainder of the November schedule will likely be canceled as well.

The delay in the season means that the NBA will play less than an 82-game schedule for the second time in recent years.  The league’s last labor strife, in 1999, did not come to an end until the first week of the calendar year, just before the deadline to cancel the entire season.

Under the new delay announced by Stern, each team will lose between six and eight games, costing the teams’ owners more than $83 million in lost ticket sales. The league is expected to lose at least $700-$800 million in revenue for each month of lost games.

Claiming that the nearly all of the league’s 30 teams are facing deficits, the NBA is demanding that players’ current 57 percent share of all “basketball-related revenue” be reduced.

Because of the failure to reach a deal, most players will now miss their first paychecks on Nov. 15, and see their offers reduced because of teams’ lost revenues.

“I think our players have been clear from the beginning that we want to play basketball,” Fisher said.

Derek Fisher, president of the players union, characterized the cancellation as disappointing, but expected.

“This is what we anticipated would probably happen, and here we are,” he said Monday in New York.  “We’ll deal with this with our chin up.”

“I think our players have been clear from the beginning that we want to play basketball,” he added.  “Our players are the best in the world…and that will continue to be our position as we try and find a resolution.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.