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ABC and the NBA: Their Biggest Nightmare

ABC and the NBA: Their Biggest Nightmare

The NBA is terrified that we may wind up getting a final series pitting the Indiana Pacers against the Memphis Grizzlies. ABC is having the same bad dream since it s broadcasting the NBA Finals.

Can you imagine the subpar television ratings if these two relatively small-market basketball teams met in the NBA Finals in June?

Go ahead. Try to name players on either squad. Not so easy, eh? You’d have to be a genuine diehard hoops fanatic to name either starting lineup.

The NBA executives are praying that they will get a glamorous matchup, something along the lines of Miami vs. Oklahoma City — that’s right, OKC is now a glam team because of superstar Kevin Durant. The teams played last year in the finals )with the Heat winning fairly easily). A rematch would be sweet for NBA fans.

In game one of their series, Indiana beat the New York Knicks — another franchise that sets NBA Commissioner David Stern and Walt Disney chief Bob Iger drooling (Walt Disney owns ABC, which is televising the NBA games and is a partner of the NBA). Indiana is a smart, tough, opportunistic team which is capable of dispatching the Knicks. 

Then the Pacers could do the same against the Heat. The Heat lost game 1 last night in a shocker against the depleted but gritty Chicago Bulls. It’s not very likely that the Heat, the best team by far during the regular season and winners of 27 games in a row at one storied point, will lose this series. 

It’s much more probable that the Heat will go on to make it to the finals and win the championship for a second straight year. But nothing is guaranteed in pro sports. LeBron James, recently named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the fourth time n five season, is the most dominant basketball player on the planet, and James won’t let the Heat lose.

Memphis played its heart out in game one vs. OKC but Durant scored 35 points and got 15 rebounds to lead the team to a last-minute victory. He made the game-winning shot to boot. Memphis won’t be discouraged. Likewise, the other favored Western Conference team, the San Antonio Spurs won its game 1 last night in dramatic fashion.

The Spus erased Golden State’s 14-point lead late in the fourth quarter and won in double overtime. Hot stuff. I stayed up till 1 in the morning to watch the game. It was that engrossing.

From a basketball point of view, Memphis-Indiana would be a terrific series. It would be full of heart, determination — and very low TV ratings. That’s why the NBA is saying its prayers for Miami to reach the promised land, where they’ll find OKC or San Antonio waiting.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, who has been presiding over the league’s financial grandeur for three decades, is retiring early in 2014. This will be the last time he will award the trophy to the champions. How funny it would be to see him standing in the locker room of a team — Indy or Memphis — he privately wishes would just go away. 

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