NBA General

Where Were All The Games This Weekend?

By Trevor Freeman

No Game 7’s on Saturday.  No doubleheader on Sunday with the NBA Draft lottery nudged in between.  Is Mickey Mouse currently in charge of NBA programming……..wait a second…..don’t answer that…
In what has been the finest NBA playoffs in recent memory, the games are going largely unwatched and that can be attributed to one man. David Stern. This ridiculous television contract the NBA signed in 2002 is KILLING the league. Everybody talks the about the influx of high schoolers and foreigners as the problem, I say it’s the lack of being on network television.

In 2002, the NBA made the decision to leave NBC for an extra $75 million a year. Now, I know what you are thinking. Heck you give me $75 million; I’m drinking Johnnie Walker Blue Label for the rest of my life and living in the Real World suite at the Palms for a solid month. However, while $75 million may seem like a lot of jack, if you divide that up by 30 teams, it’s basically pocket change for owners who already make the Forbes 500. If you take into account that the value of their franchises has dropped since the NBA as a whole is less watched in America than it was ten years ago the $75 million a year really seems insignificant.

Due to the NBA’s ridiculous television contract, the Dallas-San Antonio game and the Phoenix-Clippers game are airing at 8:00 and 10:30 EST on TNT tonight. In what world does this make sense? The only people who can get together and go out drinking for the game are between the ages of 18 and 22. Toss in the fact that 70% of these people are either going to need to find a bar with a lax carding policy or a parent who doesn’t care if kids get ripped in their basement and the problem really escalates. There’s no worse day of the week than Monday. I can’t stress enough how completely idiotic it is to have two eliminators tonight. The Phoenix-Clippers series has been by far the most enjoyable to watch yet 97.6% of people living on the East Coast have slept right through it. And you know what. They’ll continue to sleep through it because the NBA sold its soul and could not air it on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

I spoke of a chasm that has formed amongst basketball fans in an article I wrote on Adam Morrison and I bring it up again because this is huge and it will not be solved by a dress code. Currently, the game of basketball has three groups of followers. They are:

  1. College fans that have utter disdain for the NBA.
  2. Pro fans that couldn’t give two craps about college hoops until March rolls around.
  3. A shrinking group of people like me who religiously watch both college hoops and the NBA.

The only way you solve this chasm is by getting good matchups on television for everybody to watch. By not airing a series so aesthetically pleasing as the Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Clippers has been, you only embolden fans of the college game who couldn’t give a flying f*ck about the NBA. These are the ones who say, “the college game is just a better game” or “I use to watch when you had Magic, Larry, and Michael playing”.

Proponents of the NBA game point to the influx of stars like James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul. However, 58.2% of Americans have no idea what team Chris Paul even plays for. That’s because the games aren’t on network television. The NBA needs “the NBA on NBC” more than NBC does and that is saying a lot because NBC has been greenlighting shows like “Heist”, “Celebrity Cooking Showdown”, and “Book of Daniel”. The NBA needs to win back the casual sports fan.

If you don’t buy my argument then I end with this final plea for acceptance. If Paul Tagliabue was in charge of the NBA would he ever have a game as big as the Phoenix-Clippers playoff tilt air at 10:30 EST on a Monday night? Of course he wouldn’t. Because it just doesn’t make sense.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at [email protected].

3 replies on “Where Were All The Games This Weekend?”

You’re absolutely right… I take a vacation day from work on Saturday night and actually looked forward to tuning in to a game 7 (I think Phoenix-LAC would have been up in the rotation) and nothing. Ok, fine, double or triple header on Sunday, which I’m off as well. Pistons-Cavs was there, but the next two on MONDAY?!! On TNT? I know that TNT is important and has done a wonderful job for the past 10-15 years, and the post-game show is hilarious with Barkley-Smith and co., but the network (ABC) should be the flagship, right?

So basically, the NBA treats its league, teams and fans the equivalent of dodgers-padres with the 10:30 eastern start. Don’t they know about that east coast bias thing?

If I’m in charge of the NBA You had to have games on Saturday & Sunday.

Since the Clips and Phoenix played Game 6 on Thursday there is no reason why you don’t have Game 7 on ABC at 8:00 EST.  Gives the fans of the Suns/Clippers plenty of time to get warmed up in the parking lot/bar/house they are watching the game at.  Out East, the game is on in primetime.  Makes perfect sense.

Then since the Spurs/Mavs and Pistons/Cavs Game Sixes were on Friday you have the Game 7’s on Sunday.  Start the Pistons/Cavs game at 1:00 EST with the Spurs/Mavs game tipping off thirty minutes after that one ends (if you can seamlessly do it in the Elite Eight/Final Four of the NCAA Tourney you can surely do it here).  The games should end by 6-6:30 which still leaves time for the evening news and primetime lineup.

Monday and Tuesday should be days off with games resuming Wed-Sun.  

How long does the contract last? I hear your argument but if it was on NBC, we’d never have the TNT studio crew of Barkley, EJ and Kenny Smith.  On the one hand, it’s too bad that the NBA isn’t getting more ratings.  On the other hand, I have cable and I like that crew.

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