Welcome to Nuclear Winter

What a mess.

What a crazy, dysfunctional, ridiculous mess.

The 2011-2012 NBA season has been nuked. Blown all to hell because a bunch of rich people couldn’t agree how to carve up a big old money pie.

As ESPN’s Marc Stein reported:

As a labor standoff spanning nearly five months plunged into chaos, NBA commissioner David Stern and NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter could agree on only one thing.

The 2011-12 NBA season, both men conceded Monday, is legitimately in jeopardy.

That was actually the consensus conclusion all over the league after Hunter announced that the team representatives in attendance at a morning meeting in Times Square voted unanimously to file a “disclaimer of interest” that will dissolve the union and signals the players’ intent to take their battle with the owners into federal court.

Following a weekend of unusually-aggressive public lobbying by Stern in support of a take-it-or-leave-it proposal issued by owners Nov. 10, Hunter and NBPA president Derek Fisher announced that — with negotiations between the sides essentially hopeless at this stage — they planned to file an antitrust lawsuit within 48 hours. The suit will seek a summary judgment that deems the NBA shutdown which began July 1 to be illegal.

Hunter then acknowledged in an interview with NBA TV that, even though the NBPA pushed for disclaiming its status as the players’ collective bargaining representative over decertification to get into a courtroom faster, there is a “high probability” that the entire 2011-12 season will be lost because of the lengthy nature of court proceedings.

And so that leaves us, the fans of professional basketball, standing lost and shellshocked in the smoldering crater of ground zero.

No, the 2011-12 season has not been “officially” lost yet. In theory, cooler heads could prevail and one side or the other might back down. Or, heck, both sides might finally agree on an equitable compromise.

And the air we breath might spontaneously transmute into gold.

All along, I was worried it would come to this. But I never thought it would come to this. If that makes any sense at all. Most people fear the worst but believe in their heart it won’t come to pass.

And there was reason for optimism. The NBA was in a really good place. Plenty of good teams, great storylines, ratings and fan interest were up. Now?

Mushroom clouds as far as the eye can see.

Today’s TrueHoop: First Cup post has a great roundup of press stories about the situation. It provides an outlook for everybody. David Stern is evil. The owners are evil. The players are evil. Everybody’s evil.

As for the where the Bulls figure into all this drama? K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes:

Hunter said the decision to disband the union and file a disclaimer of interest was a unanimous decision by those players in attendance, including Bulls player rep Carlos Boozer. However, the deal never got presented to the membership as a whole.

Fisher asked for players to refrain from speaking publicly about the union’s decision now that it will become a legal matter, however several players ignored that and used social media to voice their feelings.

John Lucas III, who subbed for Boozer at last week’s player reps meeting when Boozer’s grandmother died, tweeted: “As players we’ve tried and tried and just haven’t had an equal partner in this process.”

At least four Bulls said they had signed papers authorizing a decertification petition before Monday’s actions. A call to Boozer didn’t get returned.

And now, all bets are off. Players will more aggressively consider overseas options, including Luol Deng in England and Joakim Noah in France. C.J. Watson tweeted that he planned to finish his college degree.

So here we are. No D-Rose. No Jo-Noah. No Lu Deng. No “Bench Mob.” No circus road trip to complain about. No Boozer or Keith Bogans to kick around.

No NBA basketball. Not now. Maybe not this year. Maybe not for a very long time.

Here are some Chicago Bulls highlights from last season. It’s all we’ve got at the moment.

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