The Untelevised Divisional Matchups

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Though Shaq and the Heat will appear an amazing 33 times on national TV, only two Southeast divisional matchups will make it to the national audience, and both of them are against Orlando. One is the first meeting between the two clubs, a home game on December 19, and the other is is the February 27 road game at Orlando. None of the four games each against the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, or Washington Wizards are currently slated for a national audience.

Shaq vs. Emeka? Is that not interesting? They meet for the first time on New Year's Day, January 1, at home, and continue to do battle throughout the season: February 11 at Charlotte, March 26 at Charlotte, April 19 at home. Not a single one of them gets even NBA TV airtime, let alone ESPN, TNT, or ABC.

The Hawks are of course the hidden team of the NBA this year (see my Atlanta report yesterday). Here are the games that will be filed under oblivion: November 24 at Atlanta, December 27 at home (right after the Christmas-day Lakers matchup), January 19 at home, January 28 on the road.

Washington plays Miami in two home-and-away sets in the first two months of the season, never to meet again. The first away-and-home set is on November 6 and 9, the Heat's third and fourth games of the season. The first two games and the fifth and sixth games are all televised, but the Wizards don't get the love. Then their final two meetings are a home-and-away set on December 13 and 15. Again the Wizards "just miss" getting exposure as those two games are followed by a streak of 5 out of 7 televised Heat games to close out December.

Perhaps you have to draw the line somewhere, and two games against Orlando, a 12.5 percent hit rate on Heat matchups in its own division to compare to an overall 40.4 percent hit rate on all of its games, seems to have been the only concession to Southeast division fans looking for some rivalries and matchups.

Fortunately there's still NBA League Pass.

The Heat have released the complete 2004-2005 regular season schedule.

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Tim Povtak ofThe Orlando Sentinel notes: [Shaquille] O'Neal, who is spending much of his summer in Central Florida, will put on the boxing gloves and climb into the ring against Antonio Tarver, the light heavyweight world champion, at Universal Studios on Aug. 6. It's the main event in a charity fund-raiser titled: Shaq's Mama Said Knock You Out. It benefits the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, which provides a scholarship fund for individuals seeking careers in nursing. Tickets for the event are $125. For more information, call 813-286-8300.


Corky Siemaszko ofThe New York Daily Newswrites: Prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant rape case reportedly have two witnesses with potential bombshell testimony against the NBA star - and one is named Shaquille O'Neal.The other, according to Sports Illustrated, is a 22-year-old Florida waitress who claims Bryant groped her while she was working a private party for the Los Angeles Lakers at O'Neal's Orlando mansion on Thanksgiving 2002. "If it's true, it could be explosive," said Dave Lugert, a former Colorado prosecutor. "It could be admitted under a similar transaction motion to show Mr. Bryant's prior sexual aggression."... O'Neal, who is no friend of Bryant's and has accused his rival of orchestrating his recent trade to the Miami Heat, has reportedly been told he could be called as a witness, but his lawyer could not be reached to confirm that. 

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal's name has surfaced in Kobe Bryant's Colorado sexual-assault trial, as the prosecution reportedly plans to subpoena an unidentified Central Florida woman who says she was groped against her will by Bryant at a 2002 party held at O'Neal's Orlando-area residence. O'Neal has been informed by prosecutors he could become a witness in the case, but that would require the prosecution to convince the court that the woman's claims are relevant to the case against Bryant... O'Neal is not believed to have direct knowledge of the alleged incident at his home.

Rudy Martzke ofUSA Todaywrites: Smart advance move: Sunshine Network, which has 2.5 million homes in South Florida, increased the number of Miami Heat games it will telecast from 46 to 70 a season, starting this season under a new deal made before the Heat acquired Shaquille O'Neal.