The NBA announced its national television schedule for the opening week of the regular season, along with its Christmas Day lineup and Martin Luther King Jr Day games yesterday.
The full television schedule for the season, which will tip-off on October 16, will be released on Friday.
Here are observations from the release of the key dates.
#NBAXmas 2018!— NBA (@NBA) August 8, 2018
12pm/et: @Bucks/@nyknicks (ESPN)
3pm/et: @okcthunder/@HoustonRockets (ABC)
5:30pm/et: @sixers/@celtics (ABC)
8pm/et: @Lakers/@warriors (ABC/ESPN)
10:30pm/et: @trailblazers/@utahjazz (ESPN) pic.twitter.com/yILe6tOVgg
No LeBron on opening night
With the Boston Celtics facing the Philadelphia 76ers to begin the season, and the Golden State Warriors receiving their championship rings before playing the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second game, that means LeBron James’ debut with the Los Angeles Lakers won’t come on opening night.
It surprisingly won’t come at the Staples Center either as the Lakers will travel to Portland to kick off their campaign on October 18.
James does get prime billing on Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr Day though, with Los Angeles meeting Golden State on both occasions, so there will be no shortage of Lakers in primetime.
Reviving the rivalry
With the Western Conference as loaded as it is, the NBA is really trying to highlight the best part of the East by pushing Celtics-Sixers on opening night and again on Christmas.
It’s one of the league’s most storied rivalries and was one of the more entertaining series to watch in the playoffs this past season, but it has the chance to become more one-sided now that Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are healthy.
The NBA missed an opportunity to give us a mouth-watering game on Christmas by leaving out a Toronto Raptors-San Antonio Spurs clash, which would have had Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan going against their former teams.
Instead, we’ll have to watch the New York Knicks play the Milwaukee Bucks. Who was clamoring for that match-up? Yawn.
LeBron James is coupling his social activism with his new presence in Hollywood to create a three-part documentary series titled ‘Shut Up and Dribble’.
Showtime announced the series, which will in October, around the same time James will make his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The series will provide “a powerful inside look at the changing role of athletes in our fraught cultural and political environment, through the lens of the NBA”, according to Showtime.
The title is based off a comment made by Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who told James to “shut up and dribble” after criticising him for his political commentary on United States President Donald Trump.
James is the executive producer of the series along with friend and business partner Maverick Carter, while Gotham Chopra, who worked with Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady on video projects, will serve as the director.
David Nevins, president and CEO of Showtime Networks Inc., said in a statement: “If being a star athlete is inherently a political experience, ‘Shut Up and Dribble’ tells that complex and dramatic story from the past to the present and from the inside out.
“LeBron James is one of many competitors whose place in the spotlight has led not to silence but perspective, and he, Maverick Carter and Gotham Chopra have given us an important, insightful docuseries that should bring their fans and fellow citizens to a higher level of discourse, rather than the dismissal satirised in the title.”
Zhaire Smith should have known that once he became the rookie the Philadelphia 76ers left draft night with, an injury was in his not-so-distant future.
And now, less than two months after he entered the league, Smith has suffered a fractured left foot while taking part in a development camp in Las Vegas, which will require surgery later this week, according to Yahoo Sports.
This is nothing new for the Sixers, who have lost one of their rookies for a prolonged period due to injury every year since 2013.
First it was Nerlens Noel, who, after being drafted sixth overall in 2013, missed the entire season to recover from knee surgery.
Then Joel Embiid missed not only his first year after being drafted third overall in 2014, but the following year too with a foot issue.
Ben Simmons continued the trend with a foot injury of his own to sit out all of 2016-17 after being drafted first overall.
Last year’s situation with Markelle Fultz, however, was by far the weirdest as a puzzling shoulder problem kept the first overall selection sidelined the first 68 games and altered his shooting form.
Of all the curses in sports, the voodoo on 76ers rookie is one of the most inexplicable. A lengthy title drought is considered a hex for many franchises, but winning a championship is extremely difficult and is often helped by luck.
Rookies getting injured every year in a mysterious manner during the offseason and then missing most, if not all of the season? That’s just too specific and improbable to be chalked up as a coincidence.
Smith nearly avoided this fate when he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with 16th overall pick in this year’s draft, but was later traded to the Sixers for Mikal Bridges.
It’s unclear how long Smith will be out of action, but the injury is substantial enough that it continues Philadelphia’s terrible injury luck another year.