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NBA preseason canceled as contract talks end

NBA preseason lost, first two weeks of season now in jeopardy. League cancelled NBA preseason after union rejected 50-50 revenue split.

By Brian MahoneyAP Basketball Writer / October 5, 2011

Derek Fisher, left, president of the NBA players' association, and Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, center, listen as Billy Hunter, right, executive director of the association, speak at a news conference following labor talks between NBA players and owners on Oct. 4, 2011, in New York. The league canceled the remainder of the NBA preseason Tuesday and will wipe out the first two weeks of the regular season if there is no labor agreement by Monday.

Bebeto Matthews/AP

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NEW YORK

Unable to reach a deal, NBA owners and players walked away from the table and don't know when they will meet again.

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If it's not in the next few days, they can forget about playing 82 games.

Without an agreement by Monday, the beginning of the regular season will be canceled, and both sides will lose millions of dollars and perhaps countless fans.

"We're ready to meet and discuss any subject anyone wants to talk about," Commissioner David Stern said. "We'd like not to lose the first two weeks of the season, but it doesn't look good."

Though the financial gap closed slightly, once the players' association said it wouldn't entertain the idea of a 50-50 revenue split, the league canceled the remainder of the NBA preseason Tuesday and will wipe out the first two weeks of the regular season if there is no labor agreement by Monday.

"We were not able to make the progress that we hoped we could make and we were not able to continue the negotiations," Stern said after nearly four hours of talks between owners and players ended without gaining ground on a new deal.

No further meetings are scheduled — union executive director Billy Hunter said it could be a month or two until the next one — making it even more likely the league will lose games to a work stoppage for the first time since 1998-99, when the season was reduced to 50 games.

Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said owners offered players a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. That's still well below the 57 percent that players were guaranteed under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but more than the 47 percent union officials said was formally proposed to them.

The only numbers that matter now, however, are the millions that stand to be lost when arenas go dark.

"The damage will be enormous," Silver said.

Players had offered to reduce their BRI guarantee to 53 percent, which they said would have given owners back more than $1 billion over six years. They say they won't cut it further, at least for now.

And they insist the 50-50 concept wasn't an even split, because it would have come after the league had already deducted $350 million off the top.

"Today was not the day for us to get this done," players' association president Derek Fisher said. "We were not able to get close enough to close the gap."

With superstars like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett standing behind him, Hunter said the players' proposal would have made up at least $200 million per season — a sizable chunk of the $300 million owners said they lost last season.

"Our guys have indicated a willingness to lose games," Hunter said.