When the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the season over the weekend, it hurt, but the cut wasn't all that deep: After all, it's just two weeks, seven games. The Knicks might have lost a home game with Miami and Oklahoma City, but the first couple of weeks are low-impact anyway; it sometimes takes that long just to get accustomed to the season having started in the first place. But that's the thing about lockouts: The longer it takes to finish them, the further the cuts go. The Knicks are about to lose one of their biggest draws.
On Tuesday, the NBA and the players are meeting with a mediator in what is expected to be yet another fruitless, lengthy get-together. And if they don't come to some sort of agreement — and they are totally not coming to any sort of agreement — commissioner David Stern says the Christmas games (including the Knicks' fun noon game against the Celtics) will be canceled.
"Right now, Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, just before my owners come into town, having brought in the labor relations committee and Billy (Hunter) having brought in his executive committee, it's time to make the deal," Stern said Thursday. "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut — this is not in my official capacity of canceling games— but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day."
One of the Knicks' most memorable pre-Carmelo wins last year was their Christmas Day victory over the Chicago Bulls, and their spot on the schedule of the NBA's showcase regular-season day was a sign of their returning relevance. You had a sense last year that this might become some sort of tradition.
The tradition may last one year. (Christmas was also supposed to feature a Miami–Dallas NBA finals rematch.) And it's not just Christmas: If Stern's right, and Christmas games are canceled if this isn't settled on Tuesday (and it's not being settled on Tuesday), that is now two months of games canceled. Now, Stern is probably posturing a bit; if suddenly everyone came to terms, say, next Friday, we suspect the NBA would figure out a way to play December 25. But if it doesn't work out, we will have gone from canceling 7 regular-season games (like the league did on Sunday) to canceling 28 (all the games up to and including Christmas).
That's more than a third of the season. This is adding up quick, people.