The NBA schedule is out and The Association isn’t backing down from the NFL’s attempted holiday takeover.
Traditionally, specific American sports have owned specific US holidays, especially in the age of cable television and streaming. You expect to watch the NFL on Thanksgiving, the NBA on Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and college football on Labor Day weekend.
But starting with 2022-23, the NFL decided to encroach on the NBA’s turf last year in scheduling nationally televised games on Christmas Day and holding a Wild Card playoff game on MLK Day. Conversely, the NBA has stepped back from scheduling national games on Thursday nights during the fall months in recent years, ostensibly to avoid having to compete directly with the NFL.
But as summer pushes toward fall once again, NBA is ready to answer back.
The Association released its full 2023-24 schedule on Thursday, and in so doing, it drew some intriguing battle lines with the NFL on three key dates between November and January — let’s dive in.
NBA Schedule 2023-24: The Association vs. The NFL
Black Friday (Nov. 24)
For decades, the day after Thanksgiving was set aside for shopping, eating leftovers, and watching college sports. The NFL upped the ante earlier this year in scheduling a Black Friday game for the first time, which sees the Miami Dolphins visiting Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets on Amazon Prime Video at 3 p.m. ET. The NBA will counter that with four nationally televised group stage games in its first-ever In-season Tournament:
- First, on NBA TV, the Boston Celtics visit the Orlando Magic at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Phoenix Suns at the Memphis Grizzlies
- On ESPN, the New York Knicks host the Miami Heat in a New York-Miami multi-sport grudge fest
- Finally, Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs take on Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors
Christmas Day (Monday, Dec. 25)
Here’s where things get really spicy. The NFL goes straight for the jugular with a nationally televised tripleheader:
- Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Las Vegas Raiders at 1 p.m. ET
- The New York Giants take on the Philadelphia Eagles at 4:25 p.m. ET
- The Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers at 8:15 p.m. ET
That 10-hour slate of football will go up directly against the NBA’s marquee five-game Christmas slate on ESPN and ABC:
- The Knicks host the Milwaukee Bucks at noon ET
- The Warriors travel to the defending champion Denver Nuggets
- The Boston Celtics host the rival Los Angeles Lakers
- The Heat host the Philadelphia 76ers
- The Suns take on the Dallas Mavericks
Those last two games on ESPN will go directly against Ravens-Niners on ABC for an all-Disney clash.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 15, 2024)
The NFL will again boast a primetime Super Wild Card postseason matchup that Monday night on ESPN to close out the opening round of the playoffs. That will be countered by TNT and NBA TV’s marquee regular season day of action, with two games on each network to counter the football frenzy.
NBA TV starts and closes out the day on Jan. 15 with the Sixers hosting the Houston Rockets at 1 p.m. ET, while the Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder at 10:30. TNT’s traditional doubleheader features the Spurs at the Atlanta Hawks and the Warriors at the Grizzlies.
Folks, the country’s two most popular sports leagues are about to go head to head in the most public, front-facing, meaningful way over the next several months. Game on.
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