By Art Garcia, NBA.com
Posted Oct 27 2008 9:04PM
The wait is over.
The NBA fast-breaks into the 2008-09 season Tuesday night with a TNT doubleheader featuring the last season's NBA finalists and a pair of former No. 1 draft choices.
But the evening gets underway with the official relaunch of NBA TV.
Defending champion Boston opens the season on TNT by hosting the 2003 top pick LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at 8 p.m. ET. The nightcap features the NBA debut of Greg Oden, 2007's No. 1 pick, and Portland visiting the Western Conference champ Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 ET.
The Celtics receive their championship rings before the game, with live coverage on TNT. The league's network starts its 10th year of coverage with a revamped team and fresh look, courtesy of a new partnership with Turner Sports.
Opening week continues Wednesday with ESPN's national telecasts of Phoenix at San Antonio (8 p.m.) and a Staples Centers roommates, Lakers and Clippers, at 10:30 p.m. TNT follows with another two-step of West heavyweights Thursday, as Houston visits Dallas (8 p.m.) and New Orleans travels to Phoenix (10:30 p.m.).
NBA TV's new lineup of announcers includes former NBA players Chris Webber, Gary Payton, Eric Snow and Steve Smith. TNT staple Ernie Johnson and longtime NBA personality Ahmad Rashad will be regular hosts of NBA TV's studio shows on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Starting on opening night, NBA TV will televise live studio programming six days a week from the new NBA TV studio in Atlanta. NBA TV will also broadcast 96 live games throughout the regular season -- the most of any national network.
To launch the new season, NBA TV will offer a free preview week (Oct. 28-Nov. 4), allowing cable and satellite distribution partners the opportunity to showcase the network to their viewers all week long.
Johnson's regular TNT studio partners, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, will also make appearances on NBA TV. Also contributing throughout the season are game announcers Marv Albert, Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Doug Collins, Mike Fratello and Dick Stockton, as well as reporters David Aldridge, Craig Sager and Cheryl Miller.
"We've hired some of the best announcers in the business and put together a deep bench that will bring unique perspectives and experiences to our daily studio telecasts, and we're excited to showcase their insights on both NBA TV and NBA.com," said Bryan Perez, senior vice president of NBA Digital.
"From online to on-air, this season we'll give fans an exciting new multi-platform experience as we deliver more games, live studio shows and compelling features than anywhere else."
Among those experiences are three signature nights of programming:
• Fan Night (Tuesdays): For the first time, fans will have the opportunity to vote for the games they want to see televised nationally on NBA TV each Tuesday night. Voting begins on Oct. 28 on NBA.com.
• Premiere Night (Wednesdays): NBA Entertainment will debut an original feature or series. The first series, NBA Roundtable, will premiere Oct. 29 and features Oden in a roundtable discussion with a number of legendary centers.
• Legends Night (Thursdays): The NBA's rich heritage will be showcased through a player, coach, team or era to give fans a chance to look back to some of the most memorable moments in basketball. The Celtics are the first to be featured.
The new season also marks Turner Broadcasting's 25th of NBA coverage with 53 regular season games on TNT. A special one-hour preview show precedes Tuesday's doubleheader.
TNT continues to offer online coverage on the network's re-designed broadband channel, TNT OverTime on NBA.com. TNT Overtime Extra is an interactive application that features a live stream with alternate camera angles for one of the TNT's Thursday games.
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