MIAMI -- Surprise, relief, joy and even some caution.
Such was the reaction of many NBA players and fans Saturday, amid news that the labor dispute which led to the cancellation of hundreds of games and threatened the entire season was nearing an end.
No schedules are out, the collective bargaining agreement has not been drafted and formal votes on the deal remain unscheduled. Still, for the first time in months, optimism seemed to take the lead over pessimism on the NBA's emotional scoreboard.
"The journey now begins!!" soon-to-be Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving, the league's No. 1 draft pick, wrote on Twitter.
Well, soon enough, anyway.
Barring either side rejecting the deal, training camps will open Dec. 9, with the league's first three games set to be played on Christmas Day. The Utah Jazz invited fans to start calling again to discuss ticket options, the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks wrote "Go Mavs" on Twitter shortly after the middle-of-the-night news conference to announce the breakthrough, and Shaquille O'Neal recorded a brief video to show his excitement.
"Haven't crossed the finish line yet," wrote Orlando guard J.J. Redick, "but there's definitely a reason to be optimistic."
The league and the union announced around 3 a.m. that they had struck a tentative deal calling for a 66-game season, meaning many owners -- and players -- were asleep, unaware of the news until they awoke. Miami guard Dwyane Wade was text-messaging with an associate shortly after 4 a.m. Eastern, and his reaction was subdued given the lateness of the hour.
"All I feel right now is 'Finally,"' Wade said.