Nba tbs.png
Also known as "America's Game"[1]
Genre Sport
Created by Turner Sports
Developed by Turner Sports
Directed by Tom Smith
Skip Ellison
Mark Goldsmith
Michael Reardon, Jr.
Starring See commentators section below
Opening theme "Higher Ground" by Run-DMC[2]
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 16
Executive producer(s) Don McGuire
Producer(s) Rohan Backfisch
Glenn Diamond
Joel Westbrook
Running time 180 minutes (or until game ends)
Original channel TBS
Original run October 28, 1984 – May 14, 2002
Related shows NBA on TNT
External links

The NBA on TBS debuted in the 1984-1985 season[3] (replacing the USA Network as the National Basketball Association's national cable television partner) under a four year contract, where they shared the NBA package along with CBS.



For their first year in the 1984-85 season, TBS was scheduled to air approximately 55 regular season games[4] on Tuesday and Friday nights. TBS also carried numerous NBA Playoff games as well as the NBA Draft[5][6] from 1985-1989.

Playoff coverage

TBS was allowed to televise 20 early round playoff games from the start of their playoff coverage in 1985.

In 1986, TBS (nor CBS) did not carry Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, relegating that to local TV. This would be the last time any NBA Conference Finals game was not aired on a national network.

During the 1989 NBA Playoffs, only 13 of the 24 Games 1-3 in Round 1 appeared on TBS or CBS. For example, none of the four games from the Seattle-Houston first round series appeared on national television.

Atlanta Hawks

Some Atlanta Hawks (also owned by Ted Turner at the time) games were shown on TBS[7] until the TBS telecasts became subject to blackout within 35 miles of the home-team's arena. (This restriction was dropped when TNT gained the right to be the exclusive broadcaster of any game that it chose to carry.)

All-Star Weekend

Beginning in 1986, TBS televised the NBA's All-Star Weekend festivities. In 1987, the slam dunk contest was televised live for the very first time.

Partnership with TNT

In the summer of 1987, TBS decided to sign a new deal along with TNT[8][9] (which launched the next year) before TBS' final year went out. In 1988, both TBS and TNT held broadcast rights to air NBA games. Whereas TNT held the NBA Draft and most NBA regular season and playoff games, TBS only aired games one day out of the week.


Both networks continued to expand in the late 1990s[10][11], when TBS only had Wednesday night games, while TNT got Monday, Tuesday and Friday night games. By 1994, Turner Sports kicked off the playoffs with overlapping doubleheaders on both TBS and TNT on the first two nights.


For the 1999-2000 NBA season, TBS shifted their Wednesday games to Monday[12]. For the 2000-2001 NBA season, they moved games to Tuesday's while TNT had games Wednesday and Thursdays.

Starting in 2000, the NBA spread out playoff series so that only two series would play per day (so as to avoid TNT and TBS competing for ratings). TNT would air doubleheaders on most weekdays, while TBS would air one doubleheader per week


2001-2002 season would ultimately mark TBS' final year of NBA coverage. For the next NBA television contract, it was decided that TNT would continue to run the NBA package while TBS will discontinue their coverage altogether, effectively replaced by ESPN. In 2002, TBS aired doubleheaders every Tuesday night of the playoffs until the Conference Finals. The final NBA game that TBS televised was on May 14, 2002, when the San Antonio Spurs faced the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Semifinals. In that last game, Robert Horry hit a key 3 pointer that won the series for the Lakers 4-1 to move on to the Western Conference Finals.

Coverage anomalies

On May 3, 1992, the broadcast of Game 4 of the playoff series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz was taken off of NBC and aired instead, on TBS. This created a problem because the game now had to be blacked out in the Los Angeles area. Folks in the Los Angeles area could only watch the game on SportsChannel Los Angeles, a premium cable service (as opposed to TBS, a basic cable service). SCLA chose not to unscramble its signal, and, in letters to the Los Angeles Times and other sources, viewers complained that the game should have been made available to all subscribers as a public service.

On isolated occasions (typically during the playoffs) since the new TV deal, TBS has aired NBA games. In 2003, TBS aired a doubleheader of first round Game 6 matchups (Indiana vs. Boston, followed by San Antonio vs. Phoenix). On May 22, 2006, due to the San Antonio Spurs-Dallas Mavericks Game 7 going overtime, TBS aired part of the Los Angeles Clippers-Phoenix Suns Game 7. On May 14, 2004, the same situation arose, as Game 5 of the New Jersey Nets-Detroit Pistons playoff series went three overtimes. However, due to scheduling conflicts with TBS, TNT had to air part of the Sacramento Kings-Minnesota Timberwolves game that was supposed to follow on NBA TV. The first few minutes of Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinal between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs were shown on TBS, due to the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Jersey Nets running past 9:30 p.m. EST.

The above situations are not unlike those that have been encountered during TBS telecasts of Major League Baseball Division Series games since 2007; at times, due to certain games running late, TNT had to air the first few minutes of games that TBS was supposed to cover starting from a certain time.

In 2011, TBS began airing games from the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament during March Madness, sharing the deal with Turner networks TNT and TruTV, as well as CBS.


Ratings for TBS as well as TNT rose from 6.6 percent in 1985-86 to 7.3 percent in 1989-90[13].

The first game in Michael Jordan's second comeback (a game against the New York Knicks that aired on TBS opposite the 2001 World Series) scored a rating between a 3.0 and 4.0.



Color commentators


  • Bryan Burwell
  • Jim Huber

Studio hosts

Studio analysts

Sideline reporters

Christmas Day broadcasters

Year Teams Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1984 New Jersey @ New York Rick Barry Bill Russell
1985 Los Angeles Clippers @ Portland Rick Barry Bill Russell
1986 Washington @ Philadelphia Bob Neal Rick Barry
1987 Atlanta @ Philadelphia Skip Caray Steve Jones
1988 Washington @ Philadelphia


At the end of their 1987 playoff coverage, TBS used Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business"[18] as the soundtrack for their closing credits sequence. TBS used Run-DMC to sing and create its theme during the early part of the 2000s. The song included a version of the Stevie Wonder song "Higher Ground."

Contract history[19]

Seasons Network Amount
1984-85 to 1985-86 TBS $20 million/2 years
1986-87 to 1987-88 TBS[20] $25 million/2 years
1988-89 to 1989-90 TBS/TNT $50 million/2 years
1990-91 to 1993-94 TNT $275 million/4 years
1994-95 to 1997-98 TNT/TBS $397 million/4 years
1998-99 to 2001-02 TNT/TBS $840 million/4 years


  1. ^ NBA 1987 playoffs Game 5 "Celtics - Pistons" (part 1) on YouTube
  2. ^ TBS NBA Tuesday theme intro - Run-DMC (2001-2002) on YouTube
  3. ^ June 6, 1984—TBS announces exclusive two-year NBA cable contract (extension through 1988 announced in February 1986 and extension through 1990 announced in November 1987).
  4. ^ Farhi, Paul (Sep 11, 1988). "TV Sports Coverage Vaults to Profitability; NBC Wins Its Gold Before". Washington Post: p. h.01. 
  5. ^ Lindquist, Jerry (Jul 1, 1988). "STRAYHORN LEAVING WXEX FOR NEW HAVEN". Richmond Times-Dispatch: p. D-5. 
  6. ^ "THE SOVIETS WILL BE COMING TO THE NBA SOON". St. Louis Post-Dispatch: p. 12D. Sep 25, 1988. 
  7. ^ July 12, 1989—SuperStation TBS announces plans to air NBA Atlanta Hawks package, showcasing 25 regular season Hawks games during the 1989-90 season.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Jerry (Jul 16, 1988). "Turner Is Hopeful on New Cable Network". New York Times. 
  9. ^ "Turner Is Hopeful on New Cable Network". The Atlanta Journal: p. E/1. Sep 13, 1988. 
  10. ^ NBA Schedule on TBS Superstation (1997-1998)
  11. ^ NBA Schedule on TBS Superstation (1998-1999)
  12. ^ TBS NBA Monday 2000 Schedule
  14. ^ "Turner Sports NBA Announcers". CNN. 
  15. ^ For the next seven years he was the main studio anchor for Atlanta Braves baseball, Atlanta Hawks basketball, NBA basketball, SEC College football and the Sunday night Coors Sports Page highlight show, as well as a contributor to CNN and Headline News.
  16. ^ Hickman previously anchored TBS Superstation's Wednesday night NBA studio show in 1995
  17. ^ Paul Ryden - Sports Host - NBA Halftime Show
  18. ^ NBA 1987 playoffs Game 5 "Celtics - Pistons" (part 24) on YouTube
  19. ^ NBA TV Contracts
  20. ^ Martzke, Rudy (November 3, 1988). "ESPN scoops Brown's remarks about Kansas". USA Today. 


External links

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