Schedule features 20 exclusive Sunday games
ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2's unparalleled 2005-06 NBA regular-season schedule will feature 90 game telecasts, highlighted by 20 exclusive Sunday game telecasts (up from 18 last year and 14 in 2003-04) on ABC Sports -- the home of the NBA Finals -- and 70 games on ESPN and ESPN2. For the first time, ABC Sports and the NBA will present a flexible schedule to provide viewers with the best possible matchups of the day. ABC Sports' 20 telecasts will include a Super Bowl Sunday showdown when Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets visit Larry Brown's Knicks on Feb. 5 at noon ET. ESPN, in cooperation with the NBA, will also continue to offer a flexible schedule to showcase marquee games throughout the season.
"The NBA's cooperation in adopting a flexible schedule will allow ABC Sports and ESPN to present the best NBA lineup, taking full advantage of emerging storylines," said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. "With this arrangement, the newly combined ESPN and ABC Sports will fully demonstrate our strength in serving fans."
ABC Sports' regular-season coverage will tip off with a blockbuster Christmas Day doubleheader, featuring an NBA Finals re-match showcasing the world champion San Antonio Spurs meeting NBA Finals runner up Detroit at 12:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., Shaquille O'Neal, Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant are reunited when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the new-look Miami Heat.
ESPN's schedule will begin with an NBA Premiere Week doubleheader featuring Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers visiting the Eastern Conference Champion Detroit Pistons Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 8 p.m., followed by the return of Phil Jackson as Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers take on Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m.
NBA Premiere Week will continue with doubleheader coverage on Friday, Nov. 4 with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, led by 2005 NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan. Later that night, NBA All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen will meet when the Minnesota Timberwolves visit the Seattle SuperSonics at 10:30 p.m. to conclude ESPN's coverage of NBA Premiere Week.
ABC Sports Highlights
• A Super Bowl Sunday showdown when Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy meets his former New York Knicks team Feb. 5 at 12 p.m., preceding ABC Sports' comprehensive coverage of Super Bowl XL kicking off at 2:30 p.m.
• 20 exclusive telecasts (up from 18 last year and 14 in 2003-04).
• A flexible schedule allowing for the best possible matchups of the day.
• Appearances from the league's top teams, including Miami, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix and San Antonio.
• Shaq and the Heat will meet: Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets Jan. 29 at 3:30 p.m.; Rip Hamilton and the Pistons Feb. 12 at 3:30 p.m.; and LeBron James and the Cavaliers March 12 at 1 p.m.
• The Pistons will host LeBron James and the Cavaliers in an NBA Rivalry Week contest Feb. 26 at noon.
• Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will face LeBron James and the Cavaliers March 19 at 1 p.m.
• Tracy McGrady and the Rockets will go head-to-head with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers April 2 at 3:30 p.m.
• First-time appearances on ABC Sports by Chicago and Seattle.
ESPN, ESPN2 Highlights
• 10 appearances -- the most by any team on the networks - by Shaq and the Heat; Kobe and the Lakers; LeBron and the Cavaliers; and NBA MVP Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.
• ESPN will televise four games during the second edition of NBA Rivalry Week: Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics against Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and the Phoenix Suns at 9 p.m. (Feb. 22); Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets visit Marbury and the New York Knicks at 8 p.m.; Kobe and the L.A. Lakers take on Elton Brand and the L.A. Clippers at 10:30 p.m. (Feb. 24); and Boston meeting the long-time rival L.A. Lakers at 7:30 p.m. (Feb. 26).
• Legendary coaches Larry Brown and Phil Jackson face off Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. (ESPN) when the Knicks visit the Lakers.
• Former Pistons head coach Larry Brown makes his first trip back to Detroit on Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. (ESPN) as the Knicks square off against the Pistons.
• ESPN will have national coverage of both regular-season matchups between Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan on Monday, Dec. 7 (Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs) at 9 p.m., and the return game Friday, Jan. 20 (San Antonio at Miami) at 8 p.m. The Jan. 20 Spurs/Heat game will tip-off a doubleheader also featuring Kobe and the Lakers vs. Nash and the Suns at 10:30 p.m.
• Two of the top young stars in the game will square off Jan. 18 at 9 p.m. (ESPN), when LeBron James and the Cavaliers visit Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets.
• ESPN will televise five Sunday games, featuring the Lakers at Detroit Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m.; Boston at the Lakers Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Chicago at Cleveland March 5 at 7:30 p.m.; Miami at New York March 19 at 7:30 p.m.; and San Antonio at Seattle March 26 at 7:30 p.m.
• ESPN2 will televise 6 games, highlighted by Jermaine O'Neal and the Indiana Pacers vs. LeBron and the Cavaliers Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. and Duncan and the Spurs hosting Garnett and the Timberwolves Jan. 6 at 8 p.m.
The NBA on ESPN Radio will tip off its 11th season Tuesday, Nov. 1 with an opening night contest between the world champion San Antonio Spurs (on the evening of the ring ceremony) hosting the Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m. Two nights later, ESPN Radio will start its Thursday Game-of-the-Week schedule when Jermaine O'Neal leads Indiana against Shaq and Miami.
Highlights of ESPN Radio's regular-season NBA schedule include a network-record eight doubleheaders, featuring a Christmas Day re-match of the 2004 Spurs-Pistons NBA Finals, followed by Shaq vs. Kobe. The NBA on ESPN Radio will also continue to broadcast select first- and second-round playoff games and all the Conference and NBA Finals action.