The New NBA Schedule Totally Disrespects the Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About

The New NBA Schedule Totally Disrespects the Wizards

Updated: August 13, 2015
[Oh John Wall, via @recordsANDradio]

[The NBA didn’t do right by John Wall. Photo via @recordsANDradio]

I hope Ted Leonsis is angry today.

Like throw-things-across-the-room, get-fined-like-Mark-Cuban, going-to-Hulk-out-level angry.

Because when I saw the NBA’s new schedule, it made me awfully mad. Which means the Wizards’ owner should be furious.

When the league annually releases its upcoming schedule, I always scan to see which teams get selected to play on national TV. Why? Getting picked for lots of national TV games is a vote of confidence—these are the teams and the players that the NBA wants to invest in. If Adam Silver were picking a squad, these are the guys he’d want to run with.

And the Wizards … well, they weren’t picked last. But they’re a hell of a long way from first.

According to Kevin Draper’s list on Deadspin, the Wizards will play five national TV games this season.


The season is six months long.

Meanwhile, the laughably awful Los Angeles Lakers got 19 national TV games. The putrid New York Knicks, mediocre Indiana Pacers and middling Boston Celtics all got seven games apiece.

And this comes after back-to-back seasons where the Wizards won a combined 102 games and proved that they are a sneaky threat to win the Eastern Conference.

“So what?” you might be thinking. “Why does it matter to get a few extra games on ESPN?”

I bet Ted Leonsis cares. I know the Wizards care. The press release the team put out on Wednesday highlights the number of national TV games on the schedule—but camouflages it by including the Wizards’ eight games on NBA TV, which is extremely generous.

(The average game on NBA TV drew less than 300,000 viewers last year; the average game on ABC drew more than 3.5 million.)

I got to thinking about something that Leonsis wrote, more than a year ago, responding to my Truth About It post lamenting the Wizards’ lack of fans in the D.C. metro area.

See: There Aren’t Many Wizards Fans – And Here’s Where They Live

“We basically lost a generation of fans and now have to create the next generation of fans,” Leonsis argued in response. “That is a part of the rebuild plan as well for our franchise.”

And national TV games are an important piece of that plan. Getting on ABC, ESPN and TNT puts John Wall and Bradley Beal in front of a bigger audience. Being the featured game of the night puts the Wizards into the national conversation.

It matters for local viewers, too. No disrespect to a regional cable station, but casual fans aren’t tuning in to hear Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier call their 500th straight game. There is something transformative about seeing the ESPN or ABC trucks come to town. You can feel a different electricity in the arena, in the press room, on the court. The players know it, and the league’s stars always raise their games in those moments.

And just getting those reps on national TV is good for the team. When the Grizzlies came to the Verizon Center in March, the game was broadcast on TNT—the first time that had happened in seven years—which meant there were many, many commercial breaks and the game dragged on for nearly three hours. When I asked Coach Wittman about it afterward, he said the number of TV timeouts was initially confusing and weird for pacing; then he realized it was part of being on national TV.

Washington needs that experience—to learn to play amid the commercial breaks, to handle the national scrutiny, to get used to being ESPN’s game of the night. Unfortunately, the league isn’t giving them the opportunity.

This isn’t a new problem, of course. The Wizards have repeatedly been exiled from national TV over the past eight seasons or so. And during the team’s half-decade of mediocrity, it was justified.

But those years are over. John Wall, Bradley Beal and their running mates are a force to be reckoned with.

And the NBA needs to start giving the Wizards the respect they deserve.


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Dan Diamond
Contributor at TAI