"We were not able to make the progress that we hoped we could make and we were not able to continue the negotiations," Commissioner David Stern said after nearly fours of talks between owners and players ended without gaining ground on a new deal.
No further meetings are scheduled, making it even more likely the league will lose games to a work stoppage for the first time since 1998-99, when the season was reduced to 50 games.
Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said owners offered players a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. That's below the 57 percent that players were guaranteed under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but more than the 47 percent union officials said was proposed to them.
The only numbers that matter now, however, are the millions that stand to be lost when arenas go dark.
"The damage will be enormous," Silver said.
Players had offered to reduce their BRI guarantee to 53 percent, which they said would have given owners back more than $1 billion over six years. They say they won't cut it further, at least for now.
"Today was not the day for us to get this done," players' association president Derek Fisher said. "We were not able to get close enough to close the gap."
With superstars like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett standing behind him, union executive director Billy Hunter said the players' proposal would have made up at least $200 million per season - a sizable chunk of the $300 million owners said they lost last season.
"Our guys have indicated a willingness to lose games," Hunter said.
The sides are also still divided on the salary-cap structure.