The full schedule for the 2023-24 NBA season was released on Thursday afternoon, with all 82 games for 30 different teams now out in the open for fans to consume. The league made it into an event, with ESPN rolling out highlighted games while graphics were passed around social media with marquee games and events.
Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers were among those excitedly waiting for the schedule to be released. Last year the Cavs broke through into the league’s upper tiers, winning 51 games and finishing with the second-best point differential in the NBA. They have two young stars on the rise in Darius Garland and Evan Mobley (who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year) to go with an established star in Donovan Mitchell, who only further increased his fame by dropping 71 points in a game.
That team success and player fame seemed like the perfect mixture to produce some marquee matchups for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Would they get placed on the Christmas Day slate? Prominently matched with another East contender for Opening Week?
Then the schedule came out, and with the full release, the league also rolled out various marquee games and events. Nearly every successful team in the league, and many not-so-successful ones, found their logos on the various graphics.
The Cavs? Nowhere to be found.
Once again the Cavs were left off of the Christmas Day slate:
Alright, but there are only 10 slots on Christmas, and a lot of star power around the league. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving making the lineup over the Cavaliers is harsh, but understandable. What about Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
The….Houston Rockets are being featured? Against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team the Cavaliers will be directly battling for playoff positioning? The Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies hosting games makes obvious sense, but the Spurs and Rockets? That stings.
Rivalry Week, then — a made-up but fun week of games where hard-fought rivals can be featured. Surely the Cavs would get a spot…
The Portland Trail Blazers!?! Since when do the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Spurs have a rivalry? And the Luka – Trae Young rivalry is long over; Doncic is a top-7 player in the league, and Young isn’t Top-20. That draft was over five years ago!
Opening Week rolls the dice on the New Orleans Pelicans having a healthy star, puts the Utah Jazz on primetime television, and features the Phoenix Suns a whopping three times. In case you were wondering, the Suns won 45 games last season, six fewer than the Cavaliers. But they have a “super team” so you know how it goes.
The disrespect continues to spool out as you search the schedule more carefully. ABC, the league’s lone network television partner, has 18 games scheduled for next season. That’s 36 potential slots. Do the Cavaliers make the cut? They sure don’t, although Dallas does twice and the New York Knicks show up three times. The Lakers are scheduled six times!
The Cavs have 17 national television games, which is a marked improvement from two seasons ago when they had none, but 8 of those games are on NBA TV, which makes them “national” games on a technicality only.
Even the one “showcase” event for the Cavaliers is a backhand honor. They play the Brooklyn Nets in January in Paris, France. That sounds like a major…oh wait, it’s on a random Thursday at 2:00 PM ET on NBA TV. Teams that matter aren’t sent to Europe in the middle of the season. That’s why the Jacksonville Jaguars are always playing in London; the NFL isn’t sending the Dallas Cowboys there!
Perhaps the answer is that the Cleveland Cavaliers have to win in the playoffs, but that’s clearly not a standard applied to every team. Even teams with a whisper of potential stardom are being elevated about the Cavs; the league is obviously fawning over VIctor Wembanyama, but teams like the Pelicans and Rockets are getting slots and the Cavs are getting the boot.
The Cavaliers were one of the league’s best teams last year, and their core is young and on the rise. They deserve more love by the NBA and its television partners. They decided to disrespect the Cavs instead. It’s up to Cleveland to prove them wrong this year.