Why do the Phoenix Suns have a weeknight ABC game in January?

The Phoenix Suns will play a midweek game on ABC this January, but how come this is happening and why are the Suns involved?
Brooklyn Nets v Phoenix Suns
Brooklyn Nets v Phoenix Suns / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

There is little doubt that the Phoenix Suns are one of the most interesting teams to watch in the NBA this season. Although they are currently languishing in the ninth spot in the Western Conference, the Suns are a classic "tune in and watch" team because you never know what their games are going to throw up.

With Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal on the roster, the Suns should be winning a lot of games. Instead as a result of injuries and a roster that lacks balance, they find themselves at 18-16, although they are a lot of fun to watch on the offensive end. Defensively they haven't been as bad as most thought, but there's just something about watching stars flounder that fans like to see.

It goes beyond these three players though - with even end of bench players like Bol Bol going off recently - to make the Suns one of the most entertaining groups in the league. Now with their backs against the wall after nearly half a season played, each game takes on even more importance for the franchise. Just another reason to watch them when you can.

Yet in an unexpected development the Suns are going to play a nationally televised midweek game on ABC in January, but why is this happening?

ABC is of course the home of the NBA Finals - and as the season progresses - they pop up on certain weekend days with marquee matchups. It's one of the calling cards of the league, and these encounters always bring with them that big game feel, which ABC has done a brilliant job of creating through the years.

That still doesn't explain why the Suns will play the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, January 31st though, and why the game has been moved from ESPN. The broadcaster that was supposed to be showing the game originally.

As much as some fans will want to see Durant go against his former team in the Nets - as well as Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson going against the Suns - we've already seen this happen this season. The Nets coming to The Valley and taking the win, in what was one of the lower points of an up-and-down campaign to date for the Suns.

The reason then is a somewhat bizarre one, as it has nothing to do with basketball at all. As a result of the recently finished writer's strike in Hollywood - as well as an actor's strike that is ongoing - ABC has no slate of scripted shows to begin the New Year to roll out. So they are turning instead to the NBA to carry them through this period.

Which makes sense given that the popularity of the league is so high right now, with the In-Season Tournament from earlier in the season a real success. The Suns at Nets game won't be the only game ABC carry in January, with a game taking place every Wednesday of the month. This will split the ESPN double-header in two, with one game instead going to ABC.

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This will take the total tally of ABC games this season to 23 - the highest amount on broadcast television since it was on NBC in the 2001-02 season - with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sure to be happy with the added exposure. The next television rights deal is looming, while two new expansion teams seem like they are going to be announced sooner rather than later.

Not that the Suns will care about any of this, as that game in Brooklyn will be the fifth of a pivotal seven game stretch away from the Footprint Center, beginning in Dallas against the Mavericks and ending 10 days later. We will know a lot more about the team by that point, and will have a better idea on if we'll see the Suns on ABC again in the postseason.