NBA TV's Half A Tip-off


The NBA unveiled some of its marquee match-ups last night on a special on NBA TV.

To no one’s surprise, the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, finalist Boston Celtics and the new look Miami Heat will play prominent roles on TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV’s coverage during the pro hoops league’s opening week, and on its Christmas and Martin Luther King Day schedules. Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City forward who led the league in scoring during the 2009-10 campaign, will also get plenty of national TV run.

I certainly understand the, er, decision, to trumpet such high-profile contests during August on the NBA Schedule Selection Special, as the league, after its free agency bonanza last month, looks to keep its off-season buzz going.

The question I have for the programming department at David Stern’s in-house network is why isn’t NBA TV vetting the entire schedule, when it’s released on Aug. 10?

Surely, Rick Kamla, who hosted last night’s special, is available again on Aug. 10, when will reveal the balance of the 2010-11 schedule. And why not put Chris Webber and Craig Sager and TNT analysts Steve Kerr and Kenny Smith, whether by satellite or in the studio, to work again by assessing the balance of the schedule.

On the high end, it’s called viewer service. After all, who doesn’t want to know when and where Mssrs. Wade, Bosh and James and the rest of Pat Riley’s traveling circus will be taking their act on the road — a la Michael and the Jordannaires, circa the second three-peat, or a Rolling Stones tour itinerary. It’s been reported that Lord LeCon will (suicide right on the) be on stage at Quicken Loans Arena on Dec. 2, so I would imagine Dan Gilbert’s favorite facility is the venue for the opener of TNT’s Thursday doubleheader that night.

On the low end, a detailed analysis of when Amar’e will return to the desert to oppose his benefactor Mr. Nash, and other dates featuring other new-fangled free-agent friends and foes engaging each other, could certainly provide serious tonnage that can help fill a seven-day schedule from now until the season tips off on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

TNT will have that action featuring Boston’s Big Four of Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, plus some guy now known as the The Big Leprechaun, playing against his former mates D-Wade and the would-be King in Beantown. In the nightcap of the opening twinbill, the “drama” network will showcase the Lakers playing lord of the rings, with the Black Mamba, Pau and posse looking to extend their Purple Reign dynasty over a returning Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets at 10: 30 p.m.

Unlike the NBA’s half-baked approach to heralding the new season, that’s a full-fledged tip-off.