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Tentative NBA deal reached; season expected to start on Christmas Day

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:17 PM EST, Sat November 26, 2011
Billy Hunter, former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (left) and NBA Commissioner David Stern were all smiles on Saturday after they announced a tentative deal to end the NBA lockout.
Billy Hunter, former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (left) and NBA Commissioner David Stern were all smiles on Saturday after they announced a tentative deal to end the NBA lockout.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Obama gives thumbs-up to news
  • NBA commissioner: 66 games expected to be played this season
  • David Stern: "We're optimistic" the season will begin on December 25
  • Players' union president Derek Fisher credits fans' patience through the NBA lockout

(CNN) -- NBA players and owners have reached a tentative deal to end the league's months-long lockout and begin play Christmas Day, though details of the agreement have not been released.

"We've reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals ... we're optimistic that will all come to pass and that the NBA season will begin on December 25 -- Christmas Day -- a tripleheader," NBA Commissioner David Stern said Saturday. He did not detail who would play in the tripleheader, but said it's expected that 66 games will be played this season.

Derek Fisher, president of the National Basketball Players Association, acknowledged the patience of NBA fans during the 149-day lockout.

"Our fans and the support from the people and (their) patience through a large part of this process -- that's where a lot of this credit goes to, Fisher said. "The efforts that have been made have been largely with them in mind."

But more work lies ahead.

"What we have to do is obviously sit down with the litigants because it has to be solved in the context of litigation," Billy Hunter, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, said in an early morning press conference with Stern.

Hunter declined to discuss specifics of the deal, including the proposed revenue split, but said he and others plan to meet with lawyers later Saturday. He estimated a resolution could come in three days to a week.

Stern said he expects the labor relations committee and board of governors to endorse the tentative pact and that a collective bargaining agreement would arise from it. Training camps would open December 9.

The NBA had canceled games through December 15.

Team owners locked out players in early July as the two sides tried to hammer out a new agreement. Stern has said the previous season was not profitable for most of the league's 30 owners, who were seeking a bigger share of league revenues.

A previous lockout in the NBA lasted 204 days, from July 1998 to January 1999, before a new collective bargaining agreement was reached by both sides. That agreement expired in June, sparking the latest developments.

After playing a round of hoops at Fort McNair in Washington on Saturday, President Barack Obama seemed to approve the tentative deal.

When asked about the potential agreement, Obama gave a thumbs-up and said, "Good deal!"

A longtime basketball fan, Obama is slated to host the "First Ever Obama Classic" on December 12, a fundraiser featuring current and former NBA players. Some big names have already signed up, including Boston Celtics' guard Ray Allen and New York Knicks' forward Carmelo Anthony.

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