NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant had to find other ways of amusing yesterday with no games taking place on what was supposed to be the start of a new season.
November 1st was scheduled to be opening day of the 2011/12 campaign but with no agreement reached over a new collective contract, the NBA was conspicuous by its absence.
The day should have seen the Chicago Bulls, the team with the best regular-season record in the league last season and Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, taking on the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki.
In the two other games on the slate, Houston were to visit Utah and Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder were to visit Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers.
Instead, James and Durant were amusing themselves by using Twitter to discuss setting up a showdown in flag football – a recreational lower-impact version of the gridiron game.
The lockout hit its 124th day on Tuesday. NBA commissioner David Stern had already cancelled all 221 games scheduled in November and said it will not be possible to play a full season of 82 games per team.
Talks broke off again on Friday as owners and players again failed to agree on how to divvy up some $4 billion in annual revenues.
Players, who received 57 percent of such revenues last season, said they have done their part by offering to take as little as 52.5 percent of income, a giveback of $1.5 billion over six years.
Players and owners are also at odds over a salary structure, with owners seeking mechanisms for limiting wages and for discouraging wealthy teams in big-city markets from out-spending their rivals for top talent.
Over the weekend, NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher was put on the defensive by a FoxSports.com report alleging that Fisher tried to cut a deal with Stern without the support of other union leaders.
“My loyalty has and always will be with the players,” Fisher wrote in a letter to his fellow players that was obtained by the New York Times. “How dare anyone call that into question.”
According to the FoxSports.com report, Fisher told Stern he could persuade players to accept a 50-50 revenue split, but was confronted by union executive director Billy Hunter on the plan.
“There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close,” Fisher wrote to players.
The league also reportedly took steps at the weekend to ensure owners continue to present a united front.
Miami Heat owner Micky Arison was fined a reported $500,000 after he made references to the negotiations on Twitter.