The 1995 NBA lockout was the first lockout of four in the history of the NBA. When the previous collective bargaining agreement expired after the 1993–94 season, a no-strike, no-lockout agreement was made in October 1994, with a moratorium on signing or restructuring player contracts. That moratorium expired on June 15, 1995, one day after the NBA Finals concluded. The expansion draft (which was held on June 24) and the NBA draft (which was held on June 28) were allowed to take place, but all other league business, including trades, free-agent signings, contract extensions, and summer leagues were suspended
from July 1 until September 12; no games were lost due to the lockout, as a new collective bargaining agreement was reached well before the start of the 1995–96 season.
Among the key issues in the labor dispute were the salary cap, free agency, a rookie salary cap, and revenue sharing.
The Chicago Bulls finished the season with a combined regular season and postseason record of 87-13, the best in NBA history. Chicago's 72 wins remained an NBA record until 2015–16, when the Golden State Warriors, who were coached by ex-Bulls guard Steve Kerr, posted a 73-9 record, but sadly, despite winning a combined 88 regular season and postseason games, they failed to win the championship. Prior to the start of the NBA Playoffs, the Bulls shocked the basketball world by wearing black socks, claiming this as redemption to the city's most infamous sports moment, the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. The socks would become a Bulls playoff tradition, which other teams soon follow. However, this was not the first time a team or a particular player wore black socks; earlier in the season, Orlando Magic forward Dennis Scott wore black socks while competing in the AT&TThree-Point Shootout at NBA All-Star Weekend.
Referees were locked out to begin the season, but reached an agreement to return to work in December 1995.
Following the referee lockout, legendary official Jake O'Donnell retired after 27 seasons (1968-95). O'Donnell, who also was an American League umpire from 1968 to 1971, worked the NBA Finals for 23 consecutive years (1972 through 1994). He remains the only official to work all-star games in two major professional sports.
Magic Johnson comes out of retirement to play in 32 games for Los Angeles before retiring again at the end of the season.
The Philadelphia 76ers play their final game at The Spectrum. At the time, it was named the CoreStates Spectrum; the CoreStates name was later added on their future home arena under construction at the time. The 76ers would return to the renamed Wachovia Spectrum for a farewell game in the 2008–09 season before its eventual demolition.
NOTE: The Cleveland Cavaliers finished the 1995–96 NBA season with a 47–35 win-loss record along with a .573 win percentage, and finished 25 games behind the #1 seed Chicago Bulls. The Cavaliers also posted a 26–15 record at home, a 21–20 record on the road, and a 13–15 record against teams in the Central Division.
z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.