With four doubleheaders over the first four days of the season, TNT and ESPN, after stepping to the line last season, are going down the lane this time around with a big NBA opening week press in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Cleveland.
For NBA fans in New York City, Inside The NBA, TNT's critically-acclaimed studio show will be part of a daylong on-site attraction open to the public and sponsored by 2K and Samsung GALAXY that will be featured in Times Square on Tuesday, Oct. 28.
Opening at 10 a.m., the space will feature fan events, including signings from NBA Legends and retired New York Knicks players, performances from the Knicks’ drumline, kids dance teams and more. The event space will feature a Samsung GALAXY-branded basketball court, NBA 2K15 gaming lounge, NBA Game Time app demo area, a NBA on TNT social media vending machine, Samsung GALAXY Experience and a massive video board from which fans can watch the evening’s NBA on TNT coverage, a doubleheader featuring the world champion San Antonio Spurs hosting the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets visiting Staples Center and Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers.
At 7 p.m., Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal will be on hand to broadcast live from Times Square throughout the entire night including pre-game, halftime updates and the post-game Inside the NBA presented by Kia.
The Times Square takeover aside, a replica of the NBA on TNT studio desk also will pop up at various locations throughout New York City on Tuesday to celebrate the start of season. Fans will be able to take photos of themselves at the desk, which is also sponsored by NBA 2K15, as well as pick up 2K and NBA swag and more.
“This is a big ramp up from what we started last season,” said Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels. “Opening week has always been an undervalued asset and we worked with the league and sponsors to really get engaged and activated.”
Doug White, ESPN director of programming and acquisitions, said the worldwide leader will bring its NBA Countdown team of Stage Steele, Doug Collins and Jalen Rose outside at LA Live at 7 p.m. (ET).
ESPN, which has parked its “RV” campaign in favor of its more fan-centric “This is Your Game” marketing campaign, will also televise a live performance from international recording artist Aloe Blacc on Oct. 29.
The pregame festivities will precede the worldwide leader’s doubleheader on Oct. 30 that features Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls invading Madison Square Garden to face Carmelo Anthony’s New York Knicks, with the Oklahoma City Thunder squaring off against the Portland Trailblazers in the nightcap.
There will also be a host of activities in downtown Cleveland’s Gateway District preceding LeBron James’s first home game versus the Knicks on Thursday. Turner Sports will televise a musical performance from Kendrick Lamar, whose new single “i” provides the musical backdrop to the NBA on TNT’s start of season coverage. With a special guest appearance by Kevin Hart with host Kristen Ledlow, the hour-long NBA on TNT Coming Home Thursday presented by Samsung Galaxy Note 4 special begins at 7 p.m.
Located just outside of Quicken Loans Arena, the free fan event will open at 4 p.m. and feature appearances by the Cavalier Girls dance team, the Scream Team hip-hop troupe and more. Once the game tips off, the event will serve as a viewing party for fans with the TNT broadcast showcased on the massive LED screens that will be set up in the space.
TNT’s doubleheader that night concludes with Los Angeles Clippers hosting OKC.
On Halloween night, ESPN’s doubleheader pits Chicago versus Cleveland, followed by the battle of the Staples Center tenants, with the Lakers serving as the home team against Steve Ballmer’s men.
NBA TV gets into the doubleheader act on Saturday, Nov. 1 with Minnesota-Chicago and the Lakers versus former TNT analyst Steve Kerr's Golden State Warriors.