Why OKC Thunder could be in line for another National TV Game

With history looming for Lakers forward LeBron James (6) could the OKC Thunder end up as benefactors of the historic event? : Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
With history looming for Lakers forward LeBron James (6) could the OKC Thunder end up as benefactors of the historic event? : Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Earlier this season the OKC Thunder became the recipients of an unexpected gift and could be on the receiving end again in the very near future based on luck and circumstance.

The ‘gift’ was an appearance on National TV featuring the Thunder versus the Miami Heat on TNT. While that might not seem like a big deal for most teams it is for the Thunder who hadn’t graced national TV screens in over two years.

OKC was extremely fortunate in the early years of the franchise primarily because of the young trio of talents who all eventually became MVPs. It was an unprecedented situation particularly because Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden were acquired in the draft, not via trades or free agency.

Because the team was winning and was showcasing an exciting style of basketball featuring that triumvirate of stars the team was frequently on TNT, ESPN, and ABC.

It was far from the usual small market situation. For example, the Grizzlies made their Christmas Day debut this year, and the Hornets have NEVER played on Christmas whereas the OKC Thunder have played in NINE Christmas Day Games!

After the Disney bubble when the team moved on from Chris Paul and began the rebuild in earnest, the Thunder has been relegated to that group of teams who are essentially out of sight.

Other than avid fans who purchase NBA League Pass any casual fan or opposing fan base typically only sees the OKC Thunder a few times a season when their local broadcaster airs the games against their team.

With a monumental historic NBA moment looming the OKC Thunder could be the fortunate benefactors via another National TV game

So when the league elected to shift up the order of games to feature the Thunder in Miami playing the Heat it was cause for celebration.

And now it feels like another rescheduling of games will occur resulting in the OKC Thunder once again being the secondary benefactor.

I’m referring to LeBron James‘ march toward becoming the All-Time leading scorer in NBA history. He is 89 points away from reaching that milestone when he will surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s long-standing record of 38,387 which he has held since April 5th, 1984.

OKC is slated to play in LA next Tuesday (February 7th). In between now and then the Lakers have matches slated versus the Pacers (tonight) and Pelicans on Saturday.  ESPN is covering the game in New Orleans which is why TI thinks there could be an announcement today or tomorrow to switch the TNT Tuesday game to the OKC Thunder versus the Lakers.

A few scenarios can play out:

  1. LeBron is dealing with ankle soreness and may sit out the Pacers match – – he’s currently listed as questionable.
  2. Since the Pelicans game is on ESPN it feels less likely he would sit out both games but it’s a possibility.
  3. He could play in both games and score around his season average of 30.2 points and return home needing just  29 points against the Thunder to set the record and do it in front of Laker Nation.
  4. Play in both games and set the record before Tuesday. Even in this scenario, the league would likely want to air the game as he would be returning home to a hero’s welcome to celebrate breaking the record in front of his fan base (and presumably if healthy enough Abdul-Jabbar).
  5. Sit out both games with a view to setting the record two nights later versus the Bucks (with that game already scheduled on TNT).

Many pundits are hoping for option #5 because Kareem was drafted by Milwaukee and spent his first six seasons with the Bucks.

The key is the league will have to give notice beforehand and TI suspects that could happen today or tomorrow if that’s the choice.

Normally, having the same team on so much would be overload — but hey the Lakers as I noted are the team most frequently on the big three networks. Plus this isn’t just a random record – – this is a record that has stood for almost four decades!

TI will keep you posted of any updates.  Until we learn more cross your fingers this happens for the OKC Thunder so Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and their young teammates get an opportunity to showcase how exciting their brand of basketball is!

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