The Golden State Warriors’ nationally televised season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers is a sign of a changing time for the team and the franchise, not just within the organization but also their perception outside of just fanbase.
This is arguably most impressive thing about the season opener. This game will be on NBATV, and although it won’t be on TNT or ESPN, it still reveals that the NBA is responding to an increase of demand for watching the Warriors.
Many Warriors fans already knew that Stephen Curry was a lights-out shooter before the offseason, but it was then that his smooth jumper captivated the imaginations of many casual basketball fans and just fans of basketball who were not that familiar with the Warriors. Couple that with his humorous and likeable personality, and you have a player whose behavior on and off the court has created many new fans for the franchise.
Those new fans are responsibly for this influx of demand. The Warriors have a franchise-high 17 nationally televised games, 26 if you count the NBATV games. A season opener on national TV sets the pace for the rest of the season. The Warriors are also tied for the second lowest back-to-back games with just 15. Compare that to the Warriors 20 back-to-back games in 2012-13.
No one can really know why the league does what it does when it selects which teams have back-to-back games, but it’s worth noting that of all the playoff teams from last season, only three have 20 or more back-to-back sets. Perhaps Curry’s phenomenal postseason play didn’t just impress the fans but the league’s higher-ups as well.
The other major aspect of this opener is that it is against the Lakers. The 2012-13 season was the first season since 1993-94 that the Warriors finished with a better record than the Lakers. Now, the Lakers were clearly hobbled last year, both injuries and an inability for the team to find it’s rhythm, but it still does not take away from the fact that there will be a power shift in the West.
While this is largely figurative, as the Warriors should definitely be able to beat the Lakers in the season opener this year, the greater implication is that teams like the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers will reverse their identities as bottom feeders of the conference to division champions and Western Conference Finals hopefuls.
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