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As one of the major sports leagues in North America, the National Basketball Association has a long history of partnership with television networks in the US. The League signed a contract with DuMont in its 8th season (1953–54), marking the first year the NBA had a national television broadcaster. Similar to NFL, the lack of television stations led to NBC taking over the rights beginning the very next season until April 7, 1962 - NBC's first tenure with the NBA. After the deal expired, Sports Network Incorporated (later known as the Hughes Television Network) signed up for two-year coverage in the 1962–63, 1963–64 season. ABC gained the NBA in 1964, the network aired its first NBA game on January 3, 1965, but lost the broadcast rights to CBS after the 1972–73 season with the initial tenure ending on May 10, 1973.


As previously mentioned, NBC Sports first broadcast the NBA from the 1954–55 through 1961–62 seasons. The announcers during this period[1] included:


For 1962–63, SNI did two games. The first one being the All-Star Game at Los Angeles with Chick Hearn and Bud Blattner on the call. The second game was the sixth and deciding game of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers with Bob Wolff on the call.


For 1963–64, SNI broadcast a series of Thursday night games starting January 2.[2] The broadcast teams during the regular season were Marty Glickman and Carl Braun for games in the Eastern Division and Bud Blattner and Ed Macauley for games in the Western Division.

They also broadcast the All-Star Game from Boston with Marty Glickman and Bud Blattner sharing play-by-play duties and with Carl Braun and Ed Macauley doing analysis.

SNI broadcast at least four playoff games starting on March 28 with St. Louis at Los Angeles with Jerry Gross on play-by-play and Ed Macauley on color commentary. The other games (all involving Marty Glickman on play-by-play) included:

Carl Braun, Alex Hannum, and Fred Schaus were the respective analysts for the April 9, April 16, and April 24 playoff broadcasts.


ABC first signed a deal with the National Basketball Association to become the league's primary television partner in 1964; the network's first game telecast aired on January 3, 1965 (a game between the Boston Celtics and Cincinnati Royals).[3] For much of the 1960s, ABC only televised Sunday afternoon games, including during the NBA Playoffs. This meant that ABC did not have to televise a potential NBA Finals deciding game if it were played on a weeknight. In 1969, ABC did televise Game 7 of the Los Angeles LakersBoston Celtics series in prime time on a weeknight. The following season, ABC aired the 1970 NBA Finals in its entirety, making it the first Finals series to have all games televised nationally.

Commentators for the original NBA on ABC included play-by-play announcers Keith Jackson[4] and Chris Schenkel,[5][6][7][8][9][10] and analysts Jack Twyman, Bob Cousy and Bill Russell. On April 8, 1967, a strike by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) forced ABC Sports producer Chuck Howard and director Chet Forte to call Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, as its regular announcing team were members of the union. Curt Gowdy also served on play-by-play for half of the 1967–68 season.

The first nationally televised Christmas Day NBA broadcast occurred in 1967, when ABC broadcast a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Diego Rockets from the then-San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego. Jerry Gross and Jack Twyman called that particular broadcast for the network. ABC would continue to televise Christmas games through 1972. The remainder of these broadcasts were based from Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. Chris Schenkel did play-by-play for ABC during this period with the exception of 1970, when Keith Jackson held that responsibility. Jack Twyman remained as color commentator for the broadcasts up until 1971, when the position was assumed by Bill Russell. ABC lost the broadcast rights to the NBA to CBS[11] after the 1972–73 season,[12] with the network's initial tenure with the league ending with its last NBA Finals game on May 10, 1973.

See also


  1. ^ "The NBA on NBC: 1954–55 to 1961–62".
  2. ^ Adams, Val (November 16, 1963). "Steel Official Prevents Showing Of His Art Collection by NBC". The New York Times. p. 41.
  3. ^ Source: ABC ad for NBA game in Chicago Tribune (January 3, 1965)
  4. ^ Maher, Charles (January 9, 1973). "The Bill Russell Show". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  5. ^ "East Given Edge in NBA All-Star Game". Hartford Courant. Associated Press. January 21, 1968. p. 5C.
  6. ^ "N.B.A. ALL-STARS TO MEET TUESDAY". New York Times. January 21, 1968. p. S3.
  7. ^ "NBA All-Stars Of East, West To Clash Live". Hartford Courant. January 21, 1968. p. 7H.
  8. ^ "Two Lost Warriors Crimp West". Hartford Courant. Associated Press. January 23, 1968. p. 19.
  9. ^ Koppett, Leonard (January 19, 1969). "Time Out for Business; All-Star Interruptions Explained, But a Basic Problem Is Neglected". New York Times. p. S8.
  10. ^ "Archibald Tops List of Stars". Sarasota Journal. Associated Press. January 11, 1973. p. 2D.
  11. ^ Friedman, David (December 22, 2010). "The NBA in the 1970s: Roone's Revenge". 20 Second Timeout.
  12. ^ Sarmento, Mario R. (1998). "Page 1 THE NBA ON NETWORK TELEVISION: A HISTORICAL ANALYSIS". CiteSeerX ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)