When the NBA’s national television schedule was released last summer, the New York Knicks were only slotted for 16 appearances, nine fewer than the 2013-14 season when they were awarded 25 appearances (the maximum number allowed across ESPN/ABC and TNT). The drop in appearances proved that even ESPN and TNT had little faith in the Knicks — playing in the largest media market and boasting one of the league’s largest fan bases — producing an on-court product that national television audiences would tune in for. Clearly, they underestimated these Knicks.
The 2014-15 version is an atrocity. At 5-33, they own the league’s worst record, and after trading J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert for three guys named “Moe” and some picks, it’s clear they’ve punted on this season and will try their hand in the draft and free agency. Well, good news, America, ESPN is finally employing its full flexing power and booting the Knicks off as many of those broadcasts as possible. As of now, that includes games on February 6th (now Clippers-Raptors) and March 25th (now Bulls-Raptors) — and it’s not the first time it’s happened this season. This is a refreshing move by ESPN, especially after choosing to fill the slots with the deserving Toronto Raptors. But it’s mainly due to the fact even ESPN knows the shit stew eventually reaches a boiling point:
“The Knicks come with a built-in advantage — the additional media exposure that comes with playing in the nation’s largest television market,” said consultant Lee Berke, chief executive officer of LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media. “But when you’ve lost 13 straight and your record is 5-33, it doesn’t matter where your team is located. You’re no longer a national ratings draw.”
I guess the 11-25 Lakers — initially scheduled for just 20 games — aren’t quite terrible enough to get the full axe…yet. All that being said, the Knicks are on TNT tonight, because that game can’t be flexed.