This article was corrected on Oct. 11, 2001.
NEW YORK — The Michael Jordan juggernaut has begun its advance, driving NBC, TBS and TNT to schedule a batch of games featuring the Washington Wizards.
Jordan generated headlines Oct. 1 when he said that he will come out of retirement to play for the Wizards this season and next. After weeklong talks with the National Basketball Assn., NBC, which owns the exclusive national broadcast rights to NBA games, said it would add two Wizards games to its schedule right away: Nov. 3 against the Philadelphia 76ers and Dec. 1 vs. the Orlando Magic.
AOL Time Warner’s TNT and TBS, which jointly share the national cable rights, have engineered some major early season reshuffling of their hoops lineups, dropping five scheduled games for Wizards contests.
Most notable change takes place on TBS Oct. 30, the opening night of the NBA season, when TBS presents the Wizards against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. TBS will schedule an unusual half-hour pregame show, which will run at 4:30 p.m. PT instead of 5 because it’s going up against the third game of the World Series on Fox, which begins at 8:30 p.m.
The four other 5 p.m. games new to the schedule pit the Wizards against the Atlanta Hawks (Nov. 1 on TNT), the Boston Celtics (Nov. 7 on TNT), the Charlotte Hornets (Nov. 20 on TBS) and the Indiana Pacers (Nov. 22 on TNT). Still in the lineup is the Wizards game TNT had previously written into its schedule, at Philadelphia Nov. 28.
If Jordan plays solid ball and the Wizards start winning enough games to contend for a postseason berth, spokesmen for NBC and TNT/TBS say the networks will add more Wizards games to their on-air schedules.
Adding buzz to the Wizards-Knicks game Oct. 30 will be an online auction to raffle off the seat next to Spike Lee, usually occupied by his wife or one of his friends. Considered the best seat in the house, it retails for $1,600 a game. Bidders can go to NBC.com between now and Oct. 23. Proceeds will go to the widows and children of New York firefighters who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.