Though a great deal of us NBA fans pine for the days when TNT seemingly had more games, more impact, more control, more Draft, more playoffs, more everything ... we tend to forget a few things.
To begin, we're packaging our recollections of Turner's run with NBC's run as the NBA's national broadcast partner - or vice versa, especially as NBC started to lose it toward the end of their run. The idea being, because TNT is so brilliant with its TV work and ABC so lousy, that an entire generation of good feelings can be wrapped by either saying, "I miss the days when TNT had a bunch of games," or, "I miss the days when NBC had a bunch of games."
What most forget, of course, is that TBS was there first. TBS had loads of games all through the 1980s, it had just as many regular season and playoff games even after TNT was created in late 1988 (remember that?), and was an NBA fixture until the tragic switch of television stations before the 2002-03 season.
How quickly we forget - Bill Engvall and Tyler Perry can do that - but TBS had its niche. The famous Larry Bird steal in the 1987 playoffs happened on TBS. The playoffs ran concurrently on TBS and TNT in the early rounds for years. In fact, most of the playoff games ran against each other on TBS and TNT, to much popular derision, until David Stern made it so the games would not run against each other and the first round ran longer than usual.
Of course, this was met with just as much popular derision, though the initial impetus for the switch was quickly forgotten, which is another in the long line of 12-trillion (oh, wait, I forgot that we're supposed to be feting Deadspin - eleventy billion) reasons why David Stern cannot win.
Either way, TBS had its day. Its last day was on a Tuesday in 2001-02, Charles Barkley's day off, when Ernie Johnson Jr. and Kenny Smith would join Peter Vecsey in the same studio that seemed to get a lot lighter on Wednesday and Thursday whilst broadcast on TNT (avec Chuckster, sans Vecsey).
And the promos? Well, ask your elders. Sha Na-Na was the most popular band in the land in 1988, hence the soundalike that previewed every NBA game on TBS during that era. Dig:
(Also note the Turner Time.)
After the jump, Bird and Magic go at it on basic cable, and pathos ensues.
It's not embedded, but it is worth a watch.
I also love this one, mainly for Bill Wennington's presence at the 48-second mark.