When the NBA released the national TV schedule in August, the Knicks appeared across ESPN, ABC, and TNT a total of 16 times, tied for ninth most in the league. The NBA has long catered to fans of large market teams—the LOLakers got 20 national TV games even though everybody knew they would be awful and bad TV—but now that the Knicks have proven to be unfathomably bad, ESPN is running away from them as fast as possible.
Nine of those 16 appearances were originally scheduled to be on ESPN, which broadcasts 75 regular season NBA games a year. The first two—against the Bulls on Oct. 29 and at the Mavericks on Nov. 29—as well as the unmovable Christmas Day game against the Wizards, went off without a hitch. But even though those are only three of the originally scheduled nine games, you'll only see the Knicks on ESPN one more time this season.
Like their NFL brethren, NBA rights partners are allowed to flex out of matchups. I have never been able to get clear answers from the NBA about how frequently they're allowed to flex, what the restrictions are, and whether the league or broadcaster has the final say, but however it works, ESPN has flexed out of the following Knicks games:
- New York at San Antonio - Dec. 10
- Dallas at New York - Dec. 16
- Oklahoma City at New York - Jan. 28
- New York at Brooklyn - Feb. 6
- Los Angeles (Clippers) at New York - March 25
So far this season, ESPN has flexed out of nine matchups in total, meaning over half of their flexes have involved the Knicks. ESPN has also flexed out of two Bulls games, but they've flexed into two other Bulls games as well. No team has net lost more than one ESPN matchup...except for the Knicks, who have lost five.
In fact, the only other time you will see the Knicks on ESPN this season is Sunday, Feb. 1, against the Lakers in a game that ESPN cannot flex out of because it is the only game on the schedule at that time. That's right: after showing their first two Knicks games of the season, ESPN has now flexed out of every single Knicks game they possibly can.
Unfortunately for ABC and TNT, they don't have the same luxury. TNT's prized block of exclusive Thursday night games, where it broadcasts two games on a sparse schedule, means it can almost never flex out of games, and ABC's early Sunday schedule means the same. So you better get your fill of the Knicks on those channels, because you'll barely see them on the Worldwide Leader.
Photo via Nick Laham/Getty