According to a report, the NBA’s delayed schedule release will include an opening night matchup on TNT featuring the defending champion San Antonio Spurs going on the road to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At first glance, it seems strange the NBA would want to shine such a bright spotlight on a team that won 33 games a year ago … oh, wait … yeah, I did hear something about some free agent signing with Cleveland.
Mike Miller is a two-time NBA champion, so it’s good to see him get some featured time.
But seriously, folks.
From Gary Washburn’s Sunday Basketball Notes column in the Boston Globe:
Rumor has it that the NBA’s season-opening game on TNT will be San Antonio at Cleveland, the first home game for LeBron James in his return to Cleveland and the first game for the defending NBA champion Spurs. The NBA schedule is expected to be released next month . . .
It’s an attractive matchup—the defending champs against the guy who changed the landscape of the Eastern Conference, if not the entire NBA, by opting to return to the Cavs after four years with the Miami Heat.
The NFL is known for having its defending champion open its season at home whenever possible, although the Baltimore Ravens were shipped out on the road for their opener because of a scheduling conflict with MLB’s Baltimore Orioles—the teams’ stadiums are next door to each other, the Orioles wouldn’t change their start time and city officials in Baltimore did not want to deal with the traffic congestion associated with two large crowds being in one place at the same time.
If the Spurs do open on the road, they would be the first defending champion to do so since the Los Angeles Lakers played their first game of the 2000-01 season at Portland.
It’s easy to see what the NBA wants to do, but it’s trying to serve two masters—capitalizing on the hype of LeBron’s first game as a Cavalier in Cleveland since the 2010 playoffs while also trying to exploit the buzz generated by a LeBron vs. Spurs matchup.
But maybe a better idea would be to let the Spurs open at home in the nightcap of a TNT opening-night doubleheader—against, say, the new-look Dallas Mavericks or whoever the Los Angeles Clippers can find from the local YMCA to wear their uniforms (too soon?)—with the Cavaliers hosting someone in the early game, like maybe the Miami Heat.
Of course, Cleveland vs. Miami seems more like something the NBA (and its fans) will want for Christmas.
I’m not going to get up on a soapbox and rant about how the Spurs and their fans have been wronged. It’s an 82-game season. There is no statistical evidence to show that a team has a better chance of making the playoffs, winning a title or doing anything significant based on whether Game 1 of those 82 is played in your own arena or someone else’s.
But it would be nice if—just once in awhile—the NBA did something that wasn’t so transparently about embarrassingly large stacks of cash.