Breaks of the Game: Red Auerbach Warned the NBA about Switching Networks

Breaks of the Game: Red Auerbach Warned the NBA about Switching Networks

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Breaks of the Game: Red Auerbach Warned the NBA about Switching Networks

It's been a few weeks since the last post reviewing David Halberstam's "The Breaks of the Game," but there are stil la handful of Celtics related excerpts to share.  I've been traveling a bit and haven't had time to post much other than the Rondo/Kentucky exhibition game video, so here are some more interesting things from this fantastic book.

There is a segment in the middle of the book that describes the period of time when the NBA switched television carriers from ABC to CBS.  The year was 1973 and the league was growing.  Nobody was certain how fast it was growing or how popular it could become.  There was much debate back then and many times it was deemed that college basketball was more popular and generated far better ratings.  So when ABC's deal was up and negotiations began for a new deal, some back channel madness happened, with Red Auerbach warning the league not to double-cross Roone Arledge, the leader at the ABC network.  Check out pages 212-215 to see how things got screwed up, and how they should have listened to Red:


It's crazy to think now how far the NBA has come in terms of popularity.  The arrivals of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were huge in this, but the NBA Finals still were broadcasted on CBS tape delay through 1983 and didn't go live until the 1984 NBA Finals.  That was the same year that David Stern took over as commissioner and it also marked the first time that Bird and Magic faced each other in the NBA Finals.  Stern then negotiated a better deal with NBC following the 1990 season, and coupled with the exploding popularity of Michael Jordan, the NBA reached its golden years from the mid-80's through the 90's.

Unfortunately the lockout now might be killing all of that momentum if it does indeed wipe out an entire season.  It's ironic that Stern was a key figure in bringing the NBA to its exploding popularity, and now is viewed as one of the key figures of its ugliness now.  Time will tell if he can help save the season.  Too bad Red isn't around to give him some advice!

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