One is an aberration.
Is two a trend?
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost another one of their nationally televised games, this time on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. According to B/R's Kevin Ding, TNT is no longer interested in showing the battle between the free-falling Lakers and the struggling Chicago Bulls:
Lakers-Bulls on Jan. 20 MLK Day has been removed from the TNT schedule. Lakers-Rockets on Jan. 8 was previously dropped by ESPN. #kobeout— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) January 2, 2014
It shouldn't be too surprising, even if there's not too much precedent for such decisions.
Neither team is particularly entertaining at this point in the season following the respective losses of Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, and there are more marquee matchups out there. In fact, one of them is replacing the Lakers contest, as reported by the New York Post's Tim Bontemps:
Blazers-Rockets will now be shown on TNT on MLK Day instead of Lakers-Bulls. A good job by TNT, and another sign of the times in the NBA.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 2, 2014
Unless you're a fan of either Chicago or L.A., you'd probably rather watch the replacement game. Watching LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, James Harden and Dwight Howard is sure to be much more enjoyable than constant reminders that Kobe has yet to return from his fractured knee.
As Ding mentioned, this is the second time the Lakers have been dumped from a game on national TV. The ESPN broadcast featuring the Lake Show battling against the Rockets on Jan. 8 was previously replaced by a showdown between the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves, though that contest has not yet come to pass.
Are you happy that networks are bumping games for better contests?
Dan Feldman, writing for NBC Sports, made it perfectly clear that this has a lot to do with a certain shooting guard who likes to wear purple and gold: "Regardless of how good Kobe is in the coming years or how good the Lakers are after spending what remains of their cap room, Kobe makes money for the team."
Without the Mamba in the lineup, these major television networks know that they can draw in wider viewership by featuring other games. And unless you're a League Pass subscriber or a fan of one of the bumped teams, it's hard to view this as a negative.
It's all about watching the best basketball possible, and kudos to both ESPN and TNT for helping make that easier.