Tuesday, Jan. 28 was originally set to be the beginning of the new NBA on TNT Tuesday Night franchise, with a Celtics-Heat and Lakers-Clippers doubleheader. That’s now been altered in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death Sunday, though; the Lakers-Clippers game has been postponed, and the new NBA on TNT Tuesday Night franchise will now be launched the following week. TNT will still cover the Celtics-Heat game, but their studio coverage (an hour-long pregame show, plus halftime and postgame coverage) will originate from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and will focus on tributes to Bryant.
Here’s more from their release:
NBA on TNT will feature a tribute to Kobe Bryant with a one-hour pregame show tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. ET. Studio coverage throughout the night will be live from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles with Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith joined by Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker, Steve Nash and other special guests.
TNT’s pregame, halftime and postgame coverage – all primarily focused on Bryant – will originate from STAPLES Center, which was slated to host the postponed Lakers/Clippers game.
This feels like a logical move. With so much of the basketball world and beyond focused on Bryant’s passing, this week certainly wouldn’t have been the right time to try and focus on the planned launch of the new Tuesday night franchise. Instead, Tuesday night analysts Wade and Parker (plus Nash, who’s going to be contributing features to the new show) will be joining the Inside The NBA cast for Bryant-focused coverage. And while there have already been a lot of tributes to Bryant around the NBA, it makes sense to have a national broadcast providing some more coverage here, and doing so with analysts like O’Neal, Nash, and Wade who spent plenty of time playing with and against Bryant.
Doing this studio coverage from the Staples Center is also notable, especially with the Lakers-Clippers game now not taking place there. It’s certainly rare to see a live studio set in an arena that isn’t being used for a game (apart from various pregame shots at things like the Super Bowl or the College Football Playoff games). But this makes some sense as well; the Staples Center was the site of so many of Bryant’s memorable moments with the Lakers, and his #8 and #24 jerseys hang in the rafters there. The Grammys Sunday night were there, and featured a moving tribute to Bryant. And now TNT’s coverage will offer further tributes to him.