Networks Say Not Yet, OKC
A telling e-mail landed in my inbox this afternoon.
It was from the NBA, which was announcing changes to the national television schedule. Unlike most of these announcements, which typically detail only one or two changes at most, this release contained three alterations. The changes begin on Feb. 3 and go out until April 7, essentially the end of the season.
The words ‘Oklahoma City’ and ‘Thunder’ are missing from the e-mail.
It’s a small but perhaps significant sign of where the Thunder still ranks in the minds of suits at national networks — despite all the recent publicity for how Kevin Durant and Co. are the team of the future. Oklahoma City’s surprising 24-18 mark and current seventh-seed position apparently means nothing to ESPN, the network that has shuffled its slate to get more appealing matchups on television.
Wednesday, Feb. 3
Miami at Boston, 7 p.m.
Phoenix at Denver, 9:30 p.m.
* The Suns-Nuggets game bumped Portland at Utah, which is no huge change and, really, quite understandable. The Suns and Nuggets could combine to score 14,251,237 points, and most fans love that kind of scoring. But Dwyane Wade and Kevin Garnett and Co.’s star power in the Miami-Boston game seemingly outweighed what is likely a better matchup between Oklahoma City and New Orleans on the same night. The NBA and ESPN kept the Heat-Celtics game as scheduled, but the Hornets-Thunder game, because both teams are fighting for their playoff lives, certainly will be more intriguing and competitive than the mediocre Heat potentially getting its head kicked in at Boston. The fact that the Hornets wouldn’t have had to change its start time should have made it a no-brainer. Chris Paul and Kevin Durant are just as, if not more, entertaining than Wade and Garnett. But selling marquee teams like Boston is much easier than small-market teams in Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
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