Filed under H, for "huh?" is the e-mail sent out by the NBA last week.
The league puts out a schedule of nationally televised games before the season begins but reserves the right to change them from time to time, for a variety of reasons, usually because better and more interesting contests present themselves.
Initially, ESPN was scheduled to broadcast the Jan. 8 Lakers-Rockets game from the Toyota Center in Houston. But last week that game was pulled and replaced with the Suns-Timberwolves game from Minneapolis.
Obviously the L.A.-Houston game had some national appeal at some point, largely because it featured a potential matchup of Kobe Bryant vs. Dwight Howard. Great things were expected after the two became teammates in L.A. last season, but like a lot of Hollywood marriages, it lacked chemistry and never really blossomed. Irreconcilable differences soon followed.
Howard left for Houston during the off season. Kobe stayed in L.A., where he was determined to make a comeback from the Achilles injury he suffered late last season. That storyline was plenty juicy enough for the folks at ESPN, who were all over the Jan. 8 showdown.
And then came the record scratch.
Bryant, who came back too early from the Achilles injury, fractured his left knee and will miss at least six weeks. That meant he wasn't available for Friday's loss to the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena, nor will he be there for Howard and the Rockets.
No Kobe vs. Dwight? No ESPN. It'll be Phoenix at Minnesota instead.
The Lakers kicked to the curb for the Suns and T-Wolves? Go figure.
"Oh they'll rue the day," said L.A. coach Mike D'Antoni, jokingly, as he spoke with reporters following the Lakers' shootaround last Friday.
Like them, love them or hate them, it really is odd to see the Lakers bumped from a nationally televised game.
"It's kind of odd that we're three games under .500," D'Antoni quipped. "It all coincides together and we don't have Kobe. I think it kind of fits in together."
The Lakers fell four games under .500 after losing to the Jazz, 105-103, in a highly entertaining game.
It was a nice win for the young Jazz and their fans, who displayed a playoff-type passion not previously felt at the ESA this season. But the truth is, the Lakers aren't a great team without Kobe ... or Steve Nash ... or Pal Gasol ... or even Steve Blake, as they were last week.
Not only are they mediocre without those guys, they're not that interesting. They've got some nice, scrappy young guys on the roster - Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jordan Hill, etc. - but, c'mon, they're not "Showtime."
No, the names on the backs of their jerseys don't quite jibe with the name on the front. And yet when the Lakers come to town - Salt Lake, Houston or anywhere else for that matter - they're still THE LAKERS, and that means they're marked men.
Don't believe me? Ask Gordon Hayward ... or Derrick Favors ... or Marvin Williams. Each said the same thing after Friday's game: beating L.A. still means something.
"They're still the Lakers," Hayward said. "So, whatever it is - the most rings - it's a historic franchise. Anytime they come to town there's a lot of fans here, we get up for the game. Beating them is always nice. We like getting wins against the Lakers."
"They're still the Lakers," Favors said.
"They're the Lakers," Williams said. "Whoever puts on that jersey is going to try to represent the organization to the best of their ability, from the coaching staff down the last last player on the bench. All those guys over there are professionals."
Being indirectly compared to future Hall of Famers may not be fair to those inconspicuous guys in the conspicuous gold and purple uniforms, but that's what happens when rock stars and Oscar winners sit near your bench.
And you can file that under H, for Hollywood, not Houston.