Having made progress during labor negotiations on Wednesday and Thursday, the NBA owners and players' union believed that a full, 82-game season could be on the table if a new collective bargaining agreement is reached by early next week, leaving fans optimistic that professional basketball would return sooner rather than later.
Following Friday's session, though, commissioner David Stern cancelled all games through Nov. 30 and told reporters in New York that an 82-game schedule is not in the cards "under any circumstances" -- mainly because the two sides failed to make significant progress towards a deal. If the league wanted to implement a condensed, 82-game season, it was imperative that the two sides reached a deal within the next few days, which doesn't seem likely at this point.
"It's not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now," Stern said.
Although a new schedule will be reworked if and when the league-imposed lockout ends, for now the Bulls lose their annual circus trip -- which was scheduled to last from Nov. 13-26 and included road games against Washington, Portland, Phoenix, the L.A. Clippers, Utah, Denver, Indiana and Milwaukee -- and a Nov. 30 home game vs. San Antonio.
Once again, the split of basketball-related income played a large role in derailing the meeting, with key system issues appearing to be close. Similar to last week's rhetoric, the league and union weren't on the same page during their respective post-meeting press conferences.
According to Stern, the union rejected the league's proposed 50-50 split of basketball-related income. Meanwhile, union executive director Billy Hunter said the players -- who received a 57 percent share of BRI in the expired bargaining deal -- offered they get 52.5 pecent of BRI. The two sides would not budge from their positions.
"Derek and I made it clear that we could not take the 50-50 deal to our membership. Not with all the concessions that we granted," Hunter said. "We said we got to have some dollars.
"We made a lot of concessions, but unfortunately at this time it's not enough, and we're not prepared or unable at this time to move any further."
So why did the 5½-hour meeting end without a breakthrough?
"We've had, until this afternoon, a pretty good several days of give-and-take. A lot of things were reaffirmed, a lot of concessions went back and forth," Stern said. "The NBA owners were willing to go to 50 percent in the percentage split of BRI. Billy Hunter said that he was not willing to go a penny below 52 (percent), that he had been getting many calls from agent, and he closed up his book and walked out of the room. And that's where we are."
No further meetings have been scheduled. To the chagrin of basketball fans and arena workers, yes, unfortunately, this is where we are. But with both sides seemingly within striking distance of a labor agreement, as Hunter suggested on Thursday, it would be shocking if they don't meet again within the next few days.
World All-Star Classic cancelled: NBA contests weren't the only casualty Friday night. According to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the star-studded World All-Star Classic exhibition game, featuring a group of 14 NBA players, Sunday in Puerto Rico has been cancelled.
Bulls forward Carlos Boozer was scheduled to play in the game and team up with stars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Amar'e Stoudemire, among others.
The team was supposed to participate in a two-week, six-game world tour, but that idea was postponed after several big-name players dropped out of the event.
Reigning league MVP Derrick Rose -- whose "Hoops for Troops" tour ended Friday -- was one of the players to opt against partaking in the World All-Star Classic, citing a "tough" schedule. Before the squad was announced, fellow Bulls teammate Joakim Noah was reportedly a candidate to replace Rose.