Midway through last night's snoozer of a Lakers-Thunder matchup—one OKC walked away with to the tune of 114-108—ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy poked fun at competitor NBA TV's sub-par national broadcast lineup. He has a point; NBA TV's national games have been far from the spotlight matchups of those on TNT or even ESPN, and with the low-budget production (usually using the home team's announcing crew) they're generally bad television.
We're assuming the whole thing was half tongue-in-cheek, for a few reasons. First, JvG was even more cranky than usual due to an illness that had broadcast partner Mike Breen seeking prophylaxis. Second, we'd like to think his statement that "teams below .500 shouldn't be on television" came with full awareness that he was, at that very moment, calling the game of a Lakers team that is below .500.
We have mixed feelings about Van Gundy as a broadcaster; he's definitely a blowhard, kind of an asshole, but almost always entertaining while being both. And his complaint (presented with mock charity toward his weak competition) opens the conversation further up from where it started last week as David Stern penalized the Spurs for placing a weak team on the court during a TNT game.
In any other sport, this wouldn't matter. All the games are available with the right packages and archived for later viewing. The NBA, however, is different. As we've covered before, nationally-broadcast games are one-and-done. If you miss them live, you can't access them in any archived form even if you subscribe to the NBA's super-pricey package. Thus, we're perfectly fine with NBA TV carrying shitty games, because if we can't catch them live, we haven't missed much. We aren't everyone, though. For fans with basic-plus cable subscriptions, especially those who don't live in primary NBA markets, NBA TV games are a boon; they deserve better.