The beginning of the National Basketball Association's lockout-shortened season will be televised on Christmas Day, if Saturday's handshake agreement can finalized, the league announced.
"We've reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations but we are optimistic that will all come to pass and the NBA season will begin December 25th, Christmas Day, with a triple-header," said NBA Commissioner David Stern at a press conference Saturday.
The return of the NBA will help its television partners, Disney's ESPN and ABC and Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, which generate considerable ad revenue, especially during the league's playoffs.
"We're pleased with the developments and look forward to the start of the season on ESPN and ABC," ESPN said in a statement.
"We are pleased and encouraged both sides are making progress to end the lockout," was Turner's statement.
Also benefiting are regional cable sports networks that have local deals with NBA teams.
The shortened season will be 66 games long, with an All Star game.
Before the start of the season was delayed by the labor negotiations, the three games scheduled on Christmas were highlighted by a rematch of last season's finals pitting LeBron James and the Miami Heat against Dirk Nowitzki and the champion Dallas Mavericks. Before the Heat-Mavs game, the Boston Celtics were scheduled to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden and afterwards, the Chicago Bulls were set to be in Los Angeles with the Lakers.
ESPN and ABC have traditionally televised NBA games on Christmas Day. Last year, ABC and ESPN showed five games.
Christmas is on a Sunday, but the NFL will be playing its games on Saturday that week, except for Monday Night Football.
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