Saw ABC/ESPN's Christmas Day NBA tripleheader lineup — New Orleans-Orlando (noon, ESPN), San Antonio-Phoenix (2:30 p.m., ABC), Boston-Los Angeles Lakers (5 p.m., ABC) — and got to thinking the New York Knicks haven't been televised nationally, it seems, since Phil Jackson played.
True, the Knicks have been horrible the past few years. but it's hard to believe that the team from the nation's No. 1 television market didn't warrant at least one slot on the 2008-09 regular-season schedule of live games carried by ABC, ESPN, TNT or TBS.
According to the NBA "map" the networks drew up for this season, the Eastern Conference is essentially made up of two teams, the Boston Celtics and LeBron Jameses; the Washington Wizards are actually relevant; New York doesn't exist; and Phoenix is the center of the universe.
The Knicks are one of five teams that aren't scheduled to be on national TV this season; the others are the Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings. Yet, the Wizards are somehow managing to make 11 appearances, though the schedules are subject to change.
Even Memphis, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee are being shown once each.
The Knicks, sitting at a semi-respectable 11-14 (the Wizards are 4-19), are considerably more competitive with new coach Mike D'Antoni's high-scoring offensive philosophy. The team D'Antoni left, the Phoenix Suns, are on national TV a league-high 26 times. (Teams from the stronger Western Conference are scheduled to be televised 166 times versus the Eastern Conference's 115.)
Here are the top teams, based on scheduled national telecasts:*
L.A. Lakers 25
San Antonio 18
*ABC's March 22 game hasn't been determined — it's listed as either Houston-San Antonio or Miami-Detroit — and was not counted.