“Here we go again,” said ABC’s NBA play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, with more than a hint of exasperation in his voice. Once again, ABC’s Saturday night NBA game, which Breen was set to call for the next two-and-a-half hours, had been rendered totally irrelevant thanks to a prominent team deciding to rest its star players.
One week after the Golden State Warriors sat out their star players, including Stephen Curry, for what figured to be an important national TV game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Cleveland Cavaliers did the same thing for their Saturday night primetime ABC match-up against the L.A. Clippers. LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving all did not play in the contest, despite being healthy. All three played the next night against the L.A. Lakers.
It’s all part of an ongoing trend in the NBA where the best teams are opting to rest their key players frequently during the regular season. This particularly happens at least once when they are scheduled to play on back-to-back nights, as the Cavs were this past weekend.
But this is the second consecutive week that the NBA’s premier rights holder, ABC, was forced to devote three hours of primetime to a virtually unwatchable contest. On Saturday night, their analysts spoke out forcefully against this new trend.
“If this was any other business, it would be a prosecutable offense,” Van Gundy said. “This bait and switch maneuver that the NBA allows its teams to pull.”
“I understand the medical information we are acquiring,” Jackson said. “I even that we’re getting more and more data to protect the players. But this still is an absolute joke. Who is protecting the fans? Who is protecting the game of basketball? Something’s gotta be done.”
[image via screengrab]
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