TV Daily Sports: NBA Draft & Baseball On Thursday

It doesn’t take long for the NBA to turn the page on one season and get everyone looking forward to the next. Exactly one week after the Miami Heat won an epic NBA Finals over the San Antonio Spurs, we have the NBA draft, on ESPN at 7:30 PM ET, the top option in daily sports programming.

This year’s draft has the potential to be really good. There’s no signature player that makes you excited to have the #1 pick, but there’s a lot of good players, especially on the wings. I’m thinking of guys like Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo. Then go to players like forwards Otto Porter (Georgetown) and Anthony Bennett (UNLV), and you’ve got a good number of players who are capable of making it in the league. Maybe not being franchise-transforming players, but being a starter on a championship-caliber team.

MLB Network will have a day-night doubleheader, starting with getaway day games in the Bronx and Detroit. The Rangers-Yanks and Angels-Tigers each have 1 PM ET games, and the network will split its coverage between the two. Then at night, it’s the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays going to Fenway Park to play the Red Sox at 7 PM ET. Coverage also includes Cleveland-Baltimore in the final game of their series from Camden Yards.

NBA-TV will, as expected, spend the day with a variety of shows previewing the draft, and then at 8 PM ET, they’ll have successive replays of Game 6 & Game 7 of the Finals. ESPN2 carries upset-laden Wimbledon up until 4 PM ET.

But the big story of the day is Aaron Hernandez. I’m tuning into Mike & Mike In The Morning as I write this, and it’s the main topic, and I’m sure the same will be the case on First Take and other major talk shows. I’m one of the many who see the Patriots’ handling of this case and contrast it to the way the Ravens’ handled Ray Lewis 14 years ago.

In each case you had a player charged with murder. Baltimore found a way to keep Lewis on the roster, made him the face of the franchise and won two Super Bowls. New England immediately cut Hernandez. I’m listening to Brian Billick, then the Ravens’ coach go into long explanations over how much the time believed in Ray Lewis the man. Color me skeptical, but I think it’s more about believing what they had in Lewis the player.

Lest anyone think football considerations made this easier for the Pats, remember that Hernandez is a pretty good tight end on a team whose best tight end (Rob Gronkowski) was operated on twice in the offseason and has serious problems at wide receiver. Not having Hernandez on the football field hurts the Patriots, but they didn’t hesitate to cut him.

It’s quite a contrast between the Baltimore and New England organizations in their handling of it. But at least the Ravens never had the audacity to try and film opposing team’s signals. Let’s not lose sight of what’s really important here. #sarcasm.

Today at TheSportsNotebook its baseball talk, as take a closer look at the American League East. Previous MLB coverage this week has looked at the Phillies, Tigers and Mariners.