Last updated
Nba tbs.png
Also known as'America's Game [1]
America's SuperShootout'
Directed byTom Smith
Skip Ellison
Mark Goldsmith
Michael Reardon, Jr.
Presented by See commentators section below
Opening theme"Higher Ground" by Run-DMC [2]
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons16
Executive producer Don McGuire
ProducersRohan Backfisch
Glenn Diamond
Joel Westbrook
Supervising producer: Bud Wendling
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time180 minutes (varies depending on game length)
Production company Turner Sports
Original network TBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original releaseOctober 10, 1984 (1984-10-10) 
May 13, 2002 (2002-05-13)
Related shows NBA on TNT
External links

The NBA on TBS is a presentation of NBA regular season and playoff game telecasts that airs on the American cable and satellite network TBS. The games are produced by Turner Sports, the sports division of the Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary of Warner Media, TBS's corporate parent.


The network obtains rights to air NBA games [3] beginning with the 1984-1985 season [4] (replacing the ESPN and USA Network as the National Basketball Association's national cable partners) in which TBS shared the NBA television package along with CBS.


Atlanta Hawks

For many years beginning when the station assumed rights to the team's game telecasts in the late 1970s, WTBS (channel 17) in Atlanta – which served as the originating feed of the national TBS cable channel from December 1976 to October 2007 – aired some regular season games from the Atlanta Hawks (which was also owned by Ted Turner at the time), which also aired nationally on WTBS's superstation feed; [5] TBS aired the games nationwide until the telecasts became subjected to NBA blackout restrictions within 35 miles of the home team's arena, resulting in many Hawks away games televised by the network being unavailable to cable providers within the designated market area of the opposing team (this restriction was dropped when TNT gained the right to be the exclusive broadcaster of any game that it chose to carry).

National coverage

When it began to televise games from NBA teams other than the Hawks beginning with the 1984-85 season, TBS maintained a package of approximately 55 regular season NBA games annually [6] on Tuesday and Friday nights. TBS also carried numerous NBA Playoff games as well as the NBA Draft [7] [8] from 1985-1989.

Playoff coverage

TBS was also allowed to televise 20 early round conference playoff games beginning with the 1985 NBA Playoffs. In 1986, TBS (as well as CBS) did not carry Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, relegating the broadcast of that game to television stations in the team's designated market areas; this would be the last time that an NBA Conference Finals game was not televised on a national network. During the 1989 NBA Playoffs, only 13 of the 24 games (comprising Games 1-3 of each series) in the first round aired on TBS or CBS. For example, none of the four games from the Seattle-Houston first round series appeared on national television.

All-Star Weekend

Beginning in 1986, TBS televised the various contests from the NBA All-Star Weekend. In 1987, the slam dunk contest was televised live for the very first time on the network.

Partnership with TNT

In the summer of 1988, the Turner Broadcasting System signed a new joint broadcast contract between TBS and TNT [9] [10] effective with the 1989-90 NBA season; beginning that season, TBS and TNT split broadcast rights to televise NBA games. TNT held rights to broadcast the NBA Draft and most NBA regular season and playoff games, while TBS only aired single games or double-headers once a week.

Both networks continued to expand their NBA coverage during the late 1990s; [11] [12] by this time, TBS only aired games on Wednesday nights, while TNT ran games on Monday, Tuesday and Friday nights. By 1994, the opening round of the playoffs featured overlapping doubleheaders on both TBS and TNT on the first two nights of each series.


For the 1999-2000 NBA season, TBS shifted its primetime game telecasts from Wednesdays to Mondays. [13] For the 2000-2001 NBA season, the broadcasts were moved to Tuesdays, while TNT assumed rights to Wednesday and Thursday evening games.

Starting in 2000, the NBA spread out telecasts of games from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference playoff series so that only two series would play on their scheduled game days (so as to avoid scheduling conflicts and ratings competition between TNT and TBS). TNT would air doubleheaders on most weekdays, while TBS would air one doubleheader each week.


The 2001-2002 season would ultimately mark TBS's final year of NBA coverage. Turner Sports signed a new NBA television contract in which TNT would assume rights to the company's NBA package, while TBS would discontinue game coverage altogether; ESPN assumed TBS's half of the league's cable television rights. During 2002, TBS aired doubleheaders every Tuesday night of the playoffs until the Conference Finals. The final NBA game ever to be regularly televised on TBS aired on May 13, 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 three-pointer that won the series four games to one for the Lakers 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 the Utah Jazz was moved to TBS from NBC, creating a problem as the game was now required to be blacked out within the Los Angeles television market. The game was only available in the Los Angeles area through SportsChannel Los Angeles, a regional sports premium cable service (as opposed to TBS, which operates as a basic cable channel and at the time, a superstation). SportsChannel Los Angeles chose not to unscramble its signal and as a result, viewers complained in letters to the Los Angeles Times and other sources that the game should have been made available to all cable subscribers as a public service.

Current broadcasts

On isolated occasions (typically during the playoffs) since TNT assumed partial cable rights to the NBA, TBS has served as an overflow feed for certain games. In 2003, TBS aired a doubleheader of first round Game 6 matchups (the Indiana Pacers-Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs-Phoenix Suns series). On May 22, 2006, due to Game 7 of the San Antonio Spurs-Dallas Mavericks series going into overtime, TBS aired part of the Game 7 Western Conference playoff match between the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns. On May 14, 2004, the same situation arose, as Game 5 of the New Jersey Nets-Detroit Pistons playoff series lasted 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 and the New Jersey Nets running past the former's 9:30 p.m. Eastern start time.

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 over their scheduled end time, TNT has had to air the first few minutes of games that TBS is supposed to cover.

Commentators [14]


Color commentators


Studio hosts

Studio analysts

Sideline reporters

Christmas Day broadcasters

YearTeams 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

Conference Finals broadcasters

YearConference Play-by-play Color commentators
1989 Eastern (Games 2, 5)
Western (Games 2–3)
Skip Caray
Bob Neal
Rick Barry (Game 2) and Steve Jones (Game 5)
Steve Jones
1988 Eastern (Games 1–2, 5)
Western (Games 1–3)
Skip Caray
Bob Neal
Rick Barry
Steve Jones
1987 Eastern (Games 1–2, Game 5), Western (Game 3)
Western (Game 2)
Bob Neal
Mel Proctor
Doug Collins
Bill Russell
1986 Eastern (Game 2)
Western (Game 2)
Skip Caray
Rick Barry
John Andariese
Bill Russell
1985 Eastern (Games 2, 5)
Western (Game 2)
Skip Caray
Rick Barry
John Andariese
Bill Russell


At the end of its 1987 playoff coverage, TBS used Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" [15] as the soundtrack for the closing credits sequence during the game telecast. TBS used Run-DMC to perform and compose its theme during the early 2000s. The song included a version of the Stevie Wonder song "Higher Ground."

Contract history [16]

1984-85 to 1985-86 TBS $20 million/2 years
1986-87 to 1987-88 TBS [17] $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

Related Research Articles

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The following is a detailed description of the various television networks, rights fees, and announcers who have called Major League Baseball games throughout the years.

<i>NBA on NBC</i>

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<i>NBA on ABC</i>

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<i>NBA on CBS</i>

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  1. NBA 1987 playoffs Game 5 "Celtics - Pistons" (part 1) on YouTube
  2. TBS NBA Tuesday theme intro - Run-DMC (2001-2003) on YouTube
  3. Sarmento, Mario R. "The NBA on Network Television: Historical Analysis".
  4. 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). Archived February 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. July 12, 1989—SuperStation TBS announces plans to air NBA Atlanta Hawks package, showcasing 25 regular season Hawks games during the 1989-90 season. Archived February 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. Farhi, Paul (Sep 11, 1988). "TV Sports Coverage Vaults to Profitability; NBC Wins Its Gold Before". Washington Post. p. h.01.
  7. Lindquist, Jerry (Jul 1, 1988). "STRAYHORN LEAVING WXEX FOR NEW HAVEN". Richmond Times-Dispatch. p. D-5.
  8. "THE SOVIETS WILL BE COMING TO THE NBA SOON". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Sep 25, 1988. p. 12D.
  9. Schwartz, Jerry (Jul 16, 1988). "Turner Is Hopeful on New Cable Network". The New York Times.
  10. "Turner Is Hopeful on New Cable Network". The Atlanta Journal. September 13, 1988. p. E/1.
  11. "NBA Schedule on TBS Superstation (1997-1998)". Archived from the original on December 24, 1997. Retrieved 2017-03-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. "NBA Schedule on TBS Superstation (1998-1999)". Archived from the original on February 20, 1999. Retrieved 2017-03-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. "TBS NBA Monday 2000 Schedule". Archived from the original on March 1, 2000. Retrieved 2017-03-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. "Turner Sports NBA Announcers". CNN.
  15. NBA 1987 playoffs Game 5 "Celtics - Pistons" (part 24) on YouTube
  16. NBA TV Contracts
  17. Martzke, Rudy (November 3, 1988). "ESPN scoops Brown's remarks about Kansas". USA Today . Gannett Company.