After multiple reports indicated that the parties were moving toward an end of the lockout folllowing a couple of marathon negotiating sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, talks broke down on Friday leading NBA commissioner David Stern to cancel the rest of the league's November slate.
Stern's call on Oct. 28, during which he also said there was no chance the NBA could fashion its complete, 82-game regular-season slate, follows earlier moves that wiped out the preseason and the first two weeks of the season, back on Oct.3 and Oct. 10, respectively.
"We held out that joint hope together, but in light of the breakdown of talks, there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances," Stern said.
Now, all of the November games and the TV schedules centering on the pro basketball league for regional sports networks, TNT and ESPN and league-owned and Turner-managed NBA TV have been erased, leaving the programmers to fill in the gaps.
TNT, which had been slated to open the season on Nov. 1, indicated on Saturday morning that it would follow the same game plan it had enunciated after the first two weeks of the season were erased: subbing fare from its primetime entertainment lineup for the lost NBA action.
As was the case when the NBA canceled the first two week of the season, ESPN officials Saturday said the network will use college football and basketball as hedges against the air-balled pro basketball programming throughout November. ESPN would have tipped off its NBA coverage on Nov. 2.
The talks broke down again over the main fissure: the division of the $4 billion in basketball-related income the circuit generates. The league, which claims it lost some $300 million during the 2010-11 season, wants a 50%-50% split, while the players association has come down to 52.5% from the 57% it received under the old deal, which expired on June 30.
At those levels, the parties remain about $100 million apart annually -- a gap they have yet to bridge.