SALT LAKE CITY — Christmas morning came almost a month early for the National Basketball Association.
And, just a couple days after Thanksgiving, the NBA had something it could be truly thankful for — labor peace.
Diehard fans rejoiced with delight, no doubt joined by much-relieved players and owners, when it was announced that a tentative labor agreement had finally been reached early Saturday morning that, upon approval, will end the league's labor lockout that lasted nearly five months — or more than twice as long as the New Jersey Nets' (and former Jazzman) Kris Humphries' marriage to Kim Kardashian.
Indeed, after it looked more and more like the entire 2011-12 season might be canceled, the owners and players finally hammered out a deal which, when ratified by its constituents, will see the season start on Christmas Day.
But now the question lingers: What does this deal do for the Utah Jazz?
Well, for starters, the franchise's owners will benefit greatly from a more generous share of the BRI — Basketball Related Income — we've heard so much about over the last few months.
In a nutshell, BRI is that income generated by ticket sales, TV contracts, merchandise, concessions, parking, etc.
By giving NBA owners the additional percentage of the BRI that they'd been bargaining for, it results in a 50/50 split, or no worse than a 51/49 split favoring the players should BRI revenues increase in the future.
This will give a small-market team like the Jazz a huge financial boost which will help offset the type of losses the franchise was forced to endure last season — reportedly around $17 million.
That alone would likely be enough to help squelch fears that the Jazz franchise might go up for sale sometime in the next few years should the team continue to lose money at such an alarming rate.
Then, if we factor in the CBA's new-and-improved salary cap restrictions/luxury tax penalties along with its revenue sharing possibilities, it should not only make the Jazz franchise increasingly solvent and profitable, but help put Utah's front office in a better position to make the team increasingly competitive in the future.
All of these factors would help improve the league's competitive balance and serve to give a team like the Jazz an enhanced opportunity at possibly winning an NBA championship — something Jazz fans, players and coaches can't help but embrace, and something that, realistically, has seemed pretty darned doubtful since Stockton and Malone rode off into the sunset.
Oh, sure, the Jazz have been highly competitive for a couple of decades.
But as far as being a legitimate NBA title contender, they've been a long shot at best since the turn of this century.
Now, with the season's start delayed by almost two months, fans must decide how much they've missed the NBA game and whether they'll run right back out and start buying tickets again.
With every labor squabble, there's always some degree of fallout and a segment of fans who vow they won't be coming back.
And with fans being entertained by the NFL, college and high school football, the Major League Baseball and its playoffs, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and the start of the college and high school basketball seasons, along with prep and collegiate soccer, volleyball and a variety of other events, there has certainly been no shortage of sports to watch over the last five months.
Revised NBA team schedules will be announced this week, and we'll find out which games will be casualties of the shortened 66-game season.
Then it'll be a matter of seeing where the free agents land, getting guys signed and into training camp for a couple of weeks, and gearing up for what will surely be a hectic regular-season schedule and promising postseason.
And after missing out on the playoffs last season, the Jazz will have their sights set on earning an invitation to the party this time around — and, hopefully, making some noise once they get there.
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