NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks to members of the press to announce a tentative labor agreement between the NBA and Players Representatives to end the 149-day lockout on November 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Winners and losers: NBA fans
For five months, we felt like hostages, witnessing the ugly process of millionaires and billionaires fighting over money -- our money, since it's fans who ultimately fund the NBA. All the bickering and threats and cancelled games annoyed and angered many of us. But with the owners and players finally ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 8, we'll still get a 66-game season starting Christmas Day. All things considered, that's not bad at all.
The owners were always going to win big in this deal. The only question was the size of the rout. They ended up getting almost everything they wanted. Now even incompetent owners like the Clippers' Donald Sterling have a better chance to turn a profit.
At the very end, they earned some concessions from owners on the midlevel exception and other system issues. But compared to the last CBA, they are giving up $3 billion in basketball-related income to the owners over the next 10 years.
Winner: David Stern
A lost season would have been disastrous for the commissioner's legacy. A second shortened season on his watch is a minor blemish compared to the decades of prosperity he's helped create for the NBA. Stern drove a hard bargain on behalf of the owners, looking like a bully in the process, but he did his job well.
Loser: Billy Hunter
It's hard to blame the NBPA's executive director too much for what ended up being an owner-friendly deal. Hunter and the players never had any leverage. But that's why many people, especially agents, felt the union should have decertified in July and taken it to the courts. The agreement came together quickly after the union disclaimed this month and started filing lawsuits.
Winner: Kobe Bryant
As the NBA's highest-paid player, he had the most money to lose with a cancelled season. More importantly, he would have lost perhaps his last, best chance to tie Michael Jordan with a sixth championship. Now he can go after it.
Loser: Jerry Buss
A more punitive luxury tax could have a big effect on the Lakers owner, whose team carries by far the highest payroll in the league. He'll also have to give up much of his profits to his fellow owners thanks to increased revenue sharing.
Winner: Deron Williams
As the only major NBA star to sign with a European team, Williams has been getting paid and keeping his game sharp in Turkey. He enhanced his global brand and enjoyed what he called a worthwhile cultural experience.
Loser: Wilson Chandler
Chandler was one of several NBA free agents to sign with Chinese teams, along with Nuggets teammates J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin. Their contracts do not have clauses that allow them to return to the NBA when the lockout ends, so they're stuck there until the Chinese league's season ends in March.
Winner: LeBron James
Finally, he'll get to begin erasing the memory of last summer's NBA Finals failure. A few late concessions by the owners also make it possible for the Heat to use a full midlevel exception to get a center without having to get rid of Mike Miller.
Loser: Mark Cuban
It's not going to be easy for the Mavericks owner to keep his championship team intact thanks to a more punitive luxury tax. Can he keep Tyson Chandler? What about Caron Butler, JJ Barea and DeShawn Stevenson?
Winners: NBA jobs
All the people who depend on an NBA season for their livelihood can now get back to work. Not just players and coaches, but mascots, dance teams, ticket takers, concession workers, parking lot attendants and all the businesses catering to fans around NBA arenas.