Lack of Lakers


May 11, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

This column was supposed to be about the return of Red Sox savior John Valentin. However, a couple phone calls I got Wednesday made me change my mind.

I must admit at first I didn't really notice. You see, I haven't paid all that much attention to the Los Angeles Lakers since Michael Cooper's socks were up at his knees. Thus I was hardly the first person to realize the Lakers' playoff game Wednesday with the Sacramento Kings was not on TV. When it finally hit me, however, I was a bit surprised.

I did know the Lakers were playing sometime Tuesday night. I was kind of bored and looking for something to watch on the tube, so I thought I might check in on our erstwhile NBA champions and see just how badly they were putting it to the Kings. After a day spent at work, I already knew the game wasn't on TNT, but I had a suspicion KCAL was probably showing it for the local fans. I was wrong.


While I was hardly outraged, this was certainly an outrageous act. How could a community under 200 miles from Los Angeles be denied the pleasure of watching a Lakers playoff game? It made no sense.

My first thought was to blame the cable company. However, on further investigation it became apparent to me all of the blame hardly belonged on the cable people (this time). The game was broadcast nationwide on TBS, which unfortunately is not a channel offered on our current cable package.

This has never made any sense to me. TBS is a superstation and I'm not sure just why our cable company feels it wouldn't be a great addition to our cable lineup, but it doesn't and usually these things don't affect us. But this was one of those times.

While some of the blame obviously belongs placed on the cable company, an equal amount must be heaped on Turner Broadcasting. Come on Ted, did Jane's religious conversion make you want to make the rest of us miserable? It makes no sense to me why the NBA would be broadcast on TNT the entire season and then it is changed for a day to TBS? What in the world could have been so important to show on TNT that it made you move your NBA coverage to TBS?

According to our TV guide it was "The Pretender" and the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle "Fatal Beauty." Now I don't know about you guys, but I don't think Whoopi Goldberg movies should be made at all, much less play in place of playoff basketball.

The other culprit would seem to be the NBA. Is the NBA the one that stopped KCAL from showing the game? (I don't know). Is the NBA the one who sold the playoff television rights to Turner? (Obviously yes). Is the NBA the one responsible for the rampant spread of hoof-and-mouth disease? (Perhaps I've gotten away from the point).

And that point is the blame certainly belongs on all three of these entities.

Now, just what can we do about this completely unjust situation? There are solutions. You could abandon the cable company and get a satellite dish. A guy I work with said he had the game on not just one but two channels. You could write Ted Turner and tell him he sucks. But I'm sure he already knows this and probably wouldn't value your opinion anyway.

You could boycott the NBA playoffs outright, but that hardly seems a good way to watch more playoff broadcasts.

There is, of course, one other choice. That would be to buy tickets to all of the Lakers' playoff games. However, I don't think any of us have enough money for that.

Thus I am left to ponder another problem with local television. I wish I could provide more answers for those five guys, beers in hand, who were waiting for the game to start. I can assure all of you the Lakers will be on tonight. Yes, on TNT at 7:30 we can all watch the Lakers beat up on the Kings again.

Make sure you all enjoy it. There's no telling when you'll get to see the Lakers play again.

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