Diss Guy: Saturday day Games
It’s often the little things in life that provide pleasant satisfactions and that was the case on Saturday morning when I rose to see the Kings-Clippers game had a 12:30pm PST tip-off. A long-time fan of the Raptors Sunday matinees, the prospect of ignoring another day of college football appealed strongly.
A typical week in the life of the NBA schedule looks something like this:
Mondays: Medium slate of games with around half of the teams participating
Tuesdays: Always a light evening with 3-5 games
Wednesdays: Crazy time, NBA style. No less than 10 matchups on hump day with a pair of games televised nationally on ESPN.
Thursdays: TNT monopolizes NBA Thursdays with two games shown on national TV. Occasionally we get a third game on League Pass.
Fridays: Like Wednesday, but the weekend is upon us and once again, we get to sit through ESPN’s NBA production, but at least Magic’s gone.
Saturdays: The league’s third busiest day of the week, no doubt capitalizing on an influx of fans heading to arenas as a way to escape the stresses of modern-day existence – or perhaps they just want to enjoy some basketball.
Sundays: Matinees (Raptors and Knicks) and early starts. Also, expect to see the Lakers on Sunday evenings. It was a Sunday Lakers-Raptors soiree when Kobe dropped his 81. Once January rolls around and the NFL regular season wraps up, the league switches to day-games on ABC; usually a pair of games to showcase the league’s best teams to a national audience.
*A note on Mon-Fri games; with the exception of the MLK Jr holiday in January, games tip-off between 7:05 and 10:05 PM EST
I understand the league’s commitment to scheduling consistency. In terms of arena-coordinating, managing advertiser-partner expectations, and competing with Saturdays that have historically been reserved for college sports, it makes sense for the league to carve out niche timeslots and avoid going head-to-head with the ratings juggernaut of football. But with the evolution of television and streaming capabilities – from the conference-specific networks of the NCAA to league networks and packages – the NCAA and NFL are both going outside of their traditional timeslots in efforts to keep audience attention with sticky products and generate more revenue. College football games are televised every night of the week. The NFL’s expanded its product to Thursday nights which compete directly with the NBA’s TNT shows.
It’s unclear if the Kings-Clips game from Saturday is attempt at out-of-the-box scheduling or just a one-time thing created by some sort of arena conflict. Given the league’s market-consciousness, I’d imagine a deviation of this nature is deliberate. And while a ratings bonanza seems unlikely, even a small improvement from the existing baseline should be enough to encourage the league to further the experiment.
Miss Guy: 11.22.13
In a matter of gut punching moments on Friday night, three of the NBA’s most dynamic stars went down with a variety of injuries that each required MRI usage to determine severity:
- Marc Gasol: MRI revealed Grade 2 MCL sprain which typically results in a 6-8 week recovery time.
- Derrick Rose: MRI revealed torn medial meniscus which has a recovery time that averages anywhere from 40 to 70 days. Early speculation points to Rose potentially missing the remainder of the season.
- Andre Iguodala: Felt a “pop” in his left hamstring that’s left him with a day-to-day status, but which could range from a strain to something more serious.
Well, doesn’t this suck. Amidst the collective gasping that was part confused irony, part spastic, part religious, part analytical, part mythic, part warmly realistic, part dramatic, part medical, part graphically academic, the 2013-14 NBA season has become a worse season than it was on November 21st.
Given his history and the severity of his injury, Rose’s story overshadowed Gasol and Iguodala, but each of these calamities hurts the basketball world. Fans buying fewer tickets means negative impact on local economies and owners (pure speculation on my part, but it piques my curiosity). No Rose, and no Iguodala and Gasol to a lesser extent, means reduced TV audience which translates to less eyeballs glued to commercials, less consumer interaction (more speculation). The sport in general is reduced in quality: Rose is a former MVP and while Joakim Noah might be the heartbeat of the team, Rose is its finely crafted engine. Gasol, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is the closest thing we have to the joyous passing and defense of Bill Walton. The bearded Spaniard is a rare player who can improve a viewer’s understanding of the game, of its angles and nuance, of the tiny crafted details, through mere spectating. And the magnetic, ebullient Iguodala was adding multiple dimensions to Golden State’s already electric attack. It’s nothing personal, but I don’t believe the majority of us want more Bazemore, Hinrich (I’m sorry), Marquis Teague, or Kosta Koufos.
And the players themselves are in pain. Often overlooked by the incomprehensible salaries and the world-class physical therapies and hyperbaric chambers is the actual pain that injuries inflict on athletes. As someone who’s had the misfortune to break an arm and leg in the same unfortunate basketball accident, I can say that the pain of recovery is miserable. I’ve played nurse to my wife (I’m not talking about that kind of “play”) while she recovered from a dislocated ankle and then a torn ACL. Pain sucks, but these are the byproducts of having fragile bodies and existing. We have tender muscles, highly breakable bones, elastic ligaments and tendons that rip, pull, and tear. We have emotions that dance delicately and we use substances to heighten or dull their intensity. And it’s in our nature to partake in endeavors that push the limits of these bodies to the point of abuse. We are impermanent, wholly dependent on the usability of our imperfect bodies. Friday night was another annoyingly shitty reminder of how much is riding on the health and vitality of a few guys in their 20s and 30s.
Wherever you land on the spectrum of reactions to Friday night’s injuries, it’s safe to say we can all agree that injuries are the ultimate shit sandwich in sports. Be you fan, player, owner, writer, analyst, documentarian … injuries shape our games and experiences into disfigured Frankensteins scarred and marred, stitched up with question marks of sympathy and darkly-hued imaginations. This isn’t hyperbolic as much as it’s a colorful expression of disappointment, of the impassable, unavoidable trench of injury (be it of the freak or chronic variety) that most athletes slip into at some point in their careers.
[In the few years I’ve been writing about the NBA, I’ve spent a chunk of my time fixated on the relative tragedy of injury. The shitty enigmatic black hole of “what if,” the loss of potential. What happened Friday night and in the 16-20 hours of speculation that followed was a whirlwind of disappointment enmeshed with rumors. The speculative nature of an audience so dependent on analysis and spectating is revealing in so many ways. It’s human nature to assume the worst and assume we did. Quickly there were guesses that it was another ACL injury for Rose and that his career would go the route of others who’ve seen their athletic abilities ravaged by injury – Yao, Gilbert Arenas, Tracy McGrady, Greg Oden. With those assumptions, leaps were made to who or what he could’ve been. Basketball obituaries were likely penned. It all happened in less than a day. The idleness of our western culture has created a space where analysis happens at a rate faster than news occurs. Alternate histories are imagined, analyzed, broken down in narrative form and then disregarded when reality doesn’t align with our worst-case notions.]