Prior to the Bulls' March 6 matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers last season, Jim Boylen was asked about motivational tactics to keep his 18-47 group engaged in the final month of the regular season.
His answer, among other tactics, was looking at the lack of national TV games the league had scheduled the Bulls for that season (the March 6 game was one of the Bulls' three national appearances).
"This is our third game on national TV," Boylen said. "I think that's the minimum that the league gives you with the TV agreement. Don't quote me. I think it's three or five. We're playing the minimum amount of games on national TV. That should bother our guys. There's a reason for that. So what are we going to do about it? Anything I can use to motivate our crew to understand what this level is really about, I'm going to use."
The ploy worked that night, as the Bulls edged out a 108-107 victory over the Joel Embiid-less Sixers on ESPN. It pushed their national TV record to 1-2, after an Opening Night loss against the Sixers and a November loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
That game didn't much of a lasting impact on the schedule makers for the 2019-20 season, however. The NBA schedule was announced on Monday and the Bulls will play just one game on national TV, a January 17 tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers (it's one of 24 national games for Joel Embiid and Co.)
The Bulls are one of eight teams with just a single nationally televised game in 2019-20, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.
Though they undoubtedly will be healthier this season, and they added some nice pieces in free agency, winning 22 games the previous season is a tough sell to get your games aired nationally. Even in Chicago.
If you want to count NBATV as national games, the Bulls will also play nationally against the LA Lakers (Nov. 5), Brooklyn Nets (Nov. 16) and Sacramento Kings (Dec. 2). In those rankings, their four appearances rank 26th in the league. Here's the total list.
The good news is the other 81 games will be aired on NBC Sports Chicago, your exclusive home of the Bulls all season long.
No team has fewer national TV games this season than the Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago