The New York Knicks only have eight games on national television. Has the NBA given up on them?
The NBA schedule was released last weekend and fans have already pegged their respective teams to have undefeated records. While this will certainly be an impossible feat for all teams (yes, even you Warriors fans) fans are still caught up in counting the wins and losses their team will have this upcoming season. But there are far more takeaways from this year’s NBA schedule. One of the biggest takeaways is that the New York Knicks, the NBA schedule maker’s darling, is no longer so.
Last season the New York Knicks were scheduled to play in 22 nationally televised games (excluding those games on NBA TV). While interest last season was unequivocally peaked due to the addition of a 27-year-old former MVP in Derrick Rose, the 2014-15 team, coming off a disappointing 37-win season, received 16 games on ESPN, ABC or TNT.
This is a franchise that no matter how poorly they play, will get national attention on game night. Or so we had thought.
The NBA stunned the mecca of basketball with the news that the New York Knicks’ will only be featured in eight games on ESPN, ABC or TNT. To add further insult, the Philadelphia Sixers, who had a worse record than New York, as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had the same record as New York, have more nationally broadcasted games than New York.
This news says two very important things about the Knicks and the NBA. The first one, which is painfully obvious, is the NBA has no faith in the New York Knicks to be competitive this year. After all, their offseason additions of Michael Beasley, Ramon Sessions and a green teenager do not scream playoffs by any means. But there is an even bigger takeaway from this year’s schedule.
The New York Knicks are not the only big market team the NBA has spurned. The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls have only six combined such games.
One thing all these teams have in common besides being big markets is their repugnant play recently. Which leads us to the most important takeaway from the schedule release. The second takeaway from this year’s league schedule is that simply being a large market will not score you exposure on the league’s premier stages. The NBA has now made it clear, if you want to be able to watch your favorite basketball team out of the market, your team must either win more basketball games or score young, exciting talent.
New York’s eight games on ABC, TNT and ESPN is good for fifteenth in the NBA behind such teams as Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers, all small markets.
While these young teams may not have transcending players such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant, they do have emerging stars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and the combination of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The NBA’s reliance on presenting young talent to a global audience is precisely why New York even has the eight games they do this season.
People want to see the young stars of tomorrow’s NBA. The 22-year-old Kristaps Porzingis, the unknown teenager Frank Ntilikina. These are the players NBA fans around the world want to see.
Fans do not care about how big your market is. Long gone are the days where teams carried the league. The league is now carried by individual players. Thankfully the NBA has finally realized this.
The Knicks were just handed a dose of reality. Aging stars such as Carmelo Anthony playing in the Big Apple will no longer bring you exposure to the vast audience brought by major broadcasting networks.
But while the Knicks have bungled their chance to reach the expansive NBA audience this season they are on the right track to fixing it in the near future. The aforementioned duo of Porzingis and Ntilikina are already a step in making the team enjoyable to a wider audience. The addition of Tim Hardaway Jr., while at an alarmingly high price tag, also shows the Knicks are committed to going younger. Even Ron Baker, who has endeared Knick fans by his relentless hustle, is a step in the right direction.
New York will not struggle to find national attention for long. For now, it is just a matter of how long it will take for a national audience to embrace this new generation of Knicks.