The first set of NBA schedule leaks includes the Grizzlies’ Christmas Day debut. Plus: the start of the World Cup has moved up a day; former SportsCenter anchor Michael Smith has a new gig; and more.
Early NBA schedule leaks include Grizzlies’ first Christmas game
The Memphis Grizzlies are tentatively scheduled to play a Christmas Day game for the first time in franchise history, per longtime NBA writer Marc Stein. Memphis would face Golden State on the holiday in a rematch of their second round playoff series last season. Assuming the game would air on ABC — a safe bet given the opponent — it would mark the first time in franchise history that the Grizzlies played a national regular season game on broadcast television. The team’s only other regular season game on broadcast, against Phoenix on ABC in March 2005, aired regionally in less than half of markets.
Grizzlies-Warriors is one of a handful of nationally televised games that have leaked in recent days. Stein also reported that the Lakers will face the Mavericks in Dallas on Christmas, the second time in three years that LeBron James and Luka Doncic have been set to face each other on the holiday.
In addition, The Athletic reported that the Warriors will open their title defense against the Lakers on Opening Night.
Per Stein, the NBA schedule is set to be released this coming week. (Stein/Twitter 8.13, The Athletic 8.13)
Start of World Cup moves up by one day
The start of this year’s FIFA World Cup has been moved up a day to Sunday, November 20, allowing for host nation Qatar to play in the first match of the tournament. Qatar will now host Ecuador at 11 AM ET that morning. Under the original iteration of the schedule, the match would have aired on FOX. With the move to an NFL Sunday, that no longer appears likely; the original version of the World Cup schedule included only one Sunday match on FOX — the December 18 final at 10 AM ET. (Sky Sports 8.12)
Former SC anchor Smith joins Amazon NFL studio
Former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Michael Smith has been named a news analyst for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football studio coverage, it was announced this week. Smith has covered the NFL for the Boston Globe and ESPN, serving as a Patriots beat reporter for the former and occasionally hosting “NFL Live” for the latter. Since he and co-host Jemele Hill were pressured out of ESPN in 2018, he has primarily appeared on the Peacock sports show “Brother From Another” alongside Michael Holley. (Amazon PR 8.9)
Plus: Field of Dreams, McGrath, Gronkowski
Major League Baseball will not return to Dyersville, Iowa, for a third-straight edition of the “Field of Dreams” game next year due to construction at the site. … ESPN recently announced a contract extension with college football reporter Molly McGrath. … ESPN on Saturday announced an alternate presentation of next week’s UFC 278 PPV featuring Rob Gronkowski. Coverage will air on ESPN and ESPN+ at 9 PM ET before shifting to ESPN+ exclusively the following hour. (Des Moines Register 8.10, ESPN PR)
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