LeBron's Move To Cleveland Predictably Results In Fewer National TV Games For Heat
The Heat’s first season following the departure of LeBron James to the Cavaliers features a Cavs-Heat game on Christmas Day, but "less national TV exposure" than the franchise is accustomed to, according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The Christmas Day game will be "one of only two Heat telecasts on ABC this season, down from five last year." The Heat’s total number of national TV appearances among TNT, ESPN and ABC also "plummeted" from 25 to 16. TNT "originally was scheduled" to carry the Wizards-Heat opener Oct. 30, but the league "changed that at the last minute." The net instead will air Knicks-Cavaliers, James' first game back with his original team (MIAMI HERALD, 8/14). NBA TV's Rick Kamla said, "TNT knows drama. So do the NBA schedule makers, making us wait a couple of days for LeBron James' homecoming to Cleveland" (NBA TV, 8/13). Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Chris Fedor notes the Cavaliers will make "29 appearances on national television," including 10 on ESPN, 10 on TNT, five on ABC and four on NBA TV (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/14).
PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE: The Cavaliers-Heat Christmas Day game will be at 5:00pm ET on ABC, and the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan asked, "Who among us did not think they would be playing on Christmas Day? I think it is great that it will be the first time they play.” ESPN's J.A. Adande said, "You knew it was coming. Reminds me of when Shaq came back to L.A. when he joined the Miami Heat. We have seen these rivalry games on Christmas." Columnist Kevin Blackistone: "This is brilliant marketing by the NBA. They have somehow hijacked Christmas and turned it into their showcase event despite the fact that the season tips off many weeks earlier. We are all tuned in on December 25” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/13). ESPN.com's Royce Young wrote James "won't receive the same level of fury he got in his first visit to Cleveland in 2010, but it will be really interesting to see how he competes" against former teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (ESPN.com, 8/13).
TEAMS ON THE UPSWING: In DC, Jorge Castillo notes the NBA last year "unveiled a regular season schedule that featured" the Wizards on national TV only once. But after a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference standings in '13-14 and a trip to the second round of the playoffs, the Wizards "will play on national television 10 times -- nine on ESPN and their first appearance on TNT" since Thanksgiving '10. The "magnified visibility is evidence of the franchise's rising national profile" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/14). Meanwhile, in S.F., Rusty Simmons notes the Warriors are "scheduled to make a franchise-record 19 national TV appearances ... with one on ABC and nine each on ESPN and TNT" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/14).
SIZE MATTERS: USA TODAY's Mate Scott noted the Lakers, who finished next-to-last in the Western Conference standings last year, "will play on national TV 28 times this season, the fifth-most of any team in the league." The Knicks also missed the playoffs last year, but will have 23 national TV games. The Lakers will "be on national TV more than the gunning Warriors, the massively entertaining Rockets, and both the Knicks and Lakers will be on more than feel-good teams like the Raptors, Mavericks and the Blazers." However, Scott wrote it is "totally understandable why the league does this." The Lakers and Knicks are "some of the most beloved teams in the league, they come from the biggest markets, and both have hugely popular stars in Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, respectively" (USATODAY.com, 8/13). NBA TV's Brent Barry noted the Lakers "are not competitive," but they continue to make national TV appearances because "nobody knows what to expect" from Bryant as he returns from injury (NBA TV, 8/13).
HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN: USA TODAY's Adi Joseph noted the Celtics were "reminded again of their slipping place on the NBA's power rung," as only four of their games are on national TV. Three of those are on NBA TV. Joseph: "It's not as though Boston's a small market or the Celtics aren't a national brand" (USATODAY.com, 8/13). In Boston, Gary Washburn notes it is a "far cry from the days of the Big Three" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/14).