Heat get championship rings, Bulls unveil Wallace on Halloween
The NBA released its 2006-07 schedule Tuesday and rolled out the red carpet for the Miami Heat, who won the first title in franchise history last season.
Wade went from star to superstar in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 34.7 points. With O’Neal, a four-time champion, as his sidekick, the Heat are clearly the league’s biggest attraction.
The Heat will get their championship rings October 31 when they open the season against the Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m. EST on TNT. The Bulls were beaten in six games by the Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs but added four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace.
The only other game on Opening Night will feature Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Phoenix Suns on TNT at 10:30 p.m. in a rematch of a thrilling Western Conference first-round series. Bryant won the NBA scoring title, but Suns point guard Steve Nash won his second straight MVP award and rallied the Suns from a 3-1 deficit to a series victory.
For the third straight year, Bryant will face former teammate O’Neal on Christmas on ABC. For the second straight season, it will be on O’Neal’s turf at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The teams meet again in Los Angeles on Martin Luther King Day - January 15 - at 10 p.m. on TNT.
But the rematch against Dallas may be more anticipated than the holiday affairs against Bryant. The Heat host the Mavericks on January 21 on ABC at 12:30 p.m. and the teams meet again at Dallas on February 22 on TNT at 9:30 p.m.
Nash and LeBron James will headline ESPN’s opening doubleheader on November 1. James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will face the Washington Wizards at 8 p.m. in a rematch of an Eastern Conference first-round series and the Suns will host the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 in another playoff series rematch from last season.
NBA TV tips off its coverage November 4 with a doubleheader featuring the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards at 7 p.m., followed by a matchup between the Suns and Clippers.
On November 5, NBA TV features a special matchup between the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena. That will be the first of six games the Hornets will play in the Crescent City during the 2006-07 season.
Wallace helped the Detroit Pistons win the NBA title in 2004 and reach the Finals again in 2005. But he signed with the Bulls in the offseason and will face his former team for the first time on January 6 on NBA TV.
Wallace will have to wait until February 25 to return to Detroit in a game that will be televised by ABC.
ABC’s schedule consists of 19 regular-season game windows, including 12 consecutive Sundays from January 21 through the end of the season. The NBA on ABC will present flexible scheduling throughout the regular season.
For the fourth straight season, ABC exclusively will broadcast the NBA Finals.
ESPN networks will show 71 regular-season games and carry the Western Conference finals with ABC.
TNT will televise 52 regular-season games, the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas on February 18 and the Eastern Conference finals exclusively.