CHECK THOSE FREQUENT FLIER MILES
The Miami Heat will spend its first year in the Midwest Division, even though Miami, as you may have noticed, is a wee bit south and east of, say, Salt Lake City, another stop on the Midwest tour.
The $500,000 the Heat projects for travel (including hotel) costs in the 1988-89 season will far exceed the NBA average of $250,000 to $300,000. And to meet its quota of Western Conference games (six against each Midwest team and four against each team in the Pacific Division), Miami will be making four grueling western swings of six days or more. Most teams make two such trips during the regular season.
The NBA did manage to give the Heat one break—its schedule includes only 10 back-to-backs (home and away games on consecutive nights), three below the league average. The Charlotte Hornets, this season's other expansion team, will have 16.
Miami will move to the Atlantic Division for the 1989-90 season, while Charlotte will be a member of the Midwest. So will Minnesota, one of two expansion teams joining the league that season. The other, Orlando, will start in the Central and move to the Midwest in '90-91. Got it now?
By the '91-92 season, the NBA's final—maybe—divisional alignments will be in place, and Miami and Orlando will be in the Atlantic Division, Charlotte in the Central and Minnesota in the Midwest.
WE STILL HAVE BOSTON GARDEN
With the opening of the Bradley Center this season, the NBA loses another link to its past: Milwaukee Arena, home to the Bucks since their founding in 1968. Milwaukee will be hard-pressed to duplicate in its new $100 million home the .736 regular-season winning percentage it had at its old arena, commonly known as the Mecca. Now only Boston Garden and Memorial Coliseum in Portland have an intimate home-club ambience about them.
The Bucks will be the main attraction at Bradley, but it's no secret that the arena was built largely because Milwaukee is gunning for an NHL franchise. That explains the opening event there on Oct. 1—an NHL preseason game between the Oilers and the Blackhawks.
Two other NBA teams—not including the expansion franchises—will be playing in new arenas: