Originally Posted by starter
This is not true. I remember watching Lakers/Celtics first finals on the 80's (I think 84) live on CBS prime time. TBS used to broadcast many many playoff games also (mid-80's).
Then your memory is likely faulty.
From 1975 to 1986, you could not count on all the games in the NBA finals to be broadcast live.
In earlier rounds, only weekend games were live, and only on the west coast. Anything else was broadcast on tape-delay at 11:30 p.m. after the late-night news.
TBS began their affiliation with the NBA in 1984-85.
In 1986, neither TBS or CBS carried Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, relegating that to local TV. This would be the last time any NBA Conference Finals game was not aired on a national network.
During the 1989 NBA Playoffs only 13 of the 24 Games 1-3 in Round 1 appeared on TBS or CBS. For example, none of the four games from the Seattle-Houston first round series appeared on national television.