Stern doubts Christmas games if no deal Tuesday

NEW YORK — Commissioner David Stern said his “gut” tells him there will be no NBA basketball on Christmas without a labor agreement by Tuesday.

That day, when owners and players are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator, is a “really big deal,” he added.

Owners will then open two days of board meetings Wednesday, and without an agreement to bring them, Stern believes further cancellations are coming.

“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.”

Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season on Monday when the sides couldn’t reach a deal before a deadline he had set.

Christmas is traditionally the first big day of the NBA season. This year’s three-game schedule features the NBA finals rematch between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.

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