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Merry Christmas, from the NBA!

When Commissioner David Stern spoke out on Saturday and said that although not yet ratified and finalized, it looked as though the NBA Players Association and the NBA had come to a deal. Pending that finalization, ball would be back in play on December 25, Christmas Day. And while that deal hasn’t yet been finalized, fans are already feeling the holiday spirit and stuffing their stockings with season tickets and their favorite jerseys.

The outlook is good. Players, including free agents, will be able to enter all 30 gyms and NBA facilities as of tomorrow, Thursday, December 1. Along with them, one media relations official per team is allowed in the facilities (so fans can still get all the behind-the-scenes stories.) And while trainers and strength coaches are allowed in, they are not permitted to instruct in any way, being there to strictly assist.

Coaches, general managers, and NBA executives are not allowed to enter any building until the deal is ratified and finalized; and although agents of players can speak to different teams, no contracts can be signed or entered into until December 9, when the free agency period begins.

But with no deal finalized, is it too soon to hope for the return of the NBA? In the words of Kevin Love, forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, “It’ll be good to see the organization from top to bottom when it’s all said and done, helping us prepare for the upcoming season. Soon after the doors open up on Thursday, I’m hoping to see guys back to work.”

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