According to NBA.com, talks on a new collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players broke off on Thursday afternoon. Players leaving the New York hotel where both sides met told reporters that the owners said that they will lock out the players when the current agreement expires at midnight. The lockout would effectively shut down the league and could end up cancelling part or all of the 2011-12 season.
"We tried to avoid the lockout," union executive committee member Matt Bonner said. "Unfortunately, we couldn't reach a deal."
The last work stoppage occurred in July 1998 when owners and players trudged through more than six months of bargaining and contentious rhetoric before coming to an agreement in January 1999. The NBA season was sliced to 50 games that year.
"I hope it doesn't come down to that," National Basketball Players Association head Billy Hunter told reporters. "Obviously, the clock is now running with regard to whether or not there will or will be a loss of games, and so I'm hoping that over the next month or so that there will be sort of a softening on their side and maybe we have to soften our position as well."