David Aldridge | NBA's conflict with 'The Sopranos' a real crime

Game 2 of the NBA Finals, starring the Cavs' LeBron James and gang, is taking on the final episode of "The Sopranos."

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - In the interest of being civil and promoting a positive discourse on the events of the day, let's keep this on a high level, promoting collegial give-and-take:

Anyone who talks to me about The Sopranos on Sunday night is going to get hurt. Real bad. As in permanent.

In case you weren't aware, the final episode of the HBO hit series about a simple mob boss who likes to eat and to whack his enemies will be shown tomorrow evening. It is the cliffiest of cliff-hangers. When last we saw Tony Soprano on Sunday, he was holed up on the second floor of a safe house, lying on a bed, machine gun in hand, waiting for hit men to enter on orders of his enemy, Phil Leotardo.

Normally, the missus and I would watch the show together and debrief each other afterward. This week, though, that will not be the case. A certain sports league that shall remain nameless - though it rhymes with "Rational Casketball Association" - has decided, in its infinite (lack of) wisdom, to schedule Game 2 of its championship series not only on the same night as the series ender, but also at the same time.

Now, one could stick one's fingers in one's ears for 21/2 hours tomorrow, one supposes, so that one would avoid hearing plot developments while Tony Parker continues to eviscerate the Cavaliers' half-court defense. (Um, playing zone? Getting Eric Snow out of mothballs? Something that might keep Parker out of the paint? Seems that that would be the way to go if you were Cleveland coach Mike Brown.)

There is talk of setting up space in the media hospitality room for a postgame viewing.

"Could you make that happen for us?" a Cavs person asked. "'Cause we want to watch it, too."

But that still would leave one vulnerable to (a) images flashed on the Jumbotron at the AT&T Center during the game, along the lines of "Tony Lives!" or "Tony Dies!"; (b) passing hallway conversation while walking to the press room (you need to have at least one hand free to carry around your notepad and/or tape recorder; (c) key information rolling along the bottom-screen crawl late tomorrow night on ABC, CNN or some other network or cable channel before you can shut your eyes or change the channel.

You think this is funny, don't you? You think it's crazy for someone to get caught up in the lives of Carmela and Dr. Melfi and Ralph Cifaretto and Paulie Walnuts and Adriana and the Bing and Tony B. and Bobby Bacala and Junior and Sil Dante? Well, you watch Tony talking about the ducks in his backyard pool one time - one flipping time - and see how you respond.

"You see, you can TiVo the thing," the commissioner of the NBA said. "It's not time-sensitive. It's fresh, like live sports events."

Slight problem: The show is being TiVoed. At my house. Unfortunately, the TiVo, the television set and the house are about 1,615 miles away.

"Well, you stay up even later and watch it when you get back to your room," the commish said, 'cause he's a helper.

Slight problem II: My hotel doesn't get the West Coast feed of HBO, which would show The Sopranos at midnight Eastern, 11 p.m. Central time.

"Well, you can get the Slingbox and have it fed to you," the commish said, because he only has my interests at heart. (The Slingbox, for the technology-challenged, is a gizmo that takes your cable signal or whatever you're TiVoing at home and feeds it to your personal computer or cell phone. It's all the rage among teenagers.)

But the Slingbox runs $249.99 at the local Best Buy at the South Park Mall, plus another $40 to $50 if you want to throw in for the performance plan. Even if I wanted to write that off as a good dinner on the Riverwalk - and I don't, accounting department, I don't - it's unlikely I could get it shipped home and set up in time.

I'm toast.

And that's unfair. Because the league already adjusted its schedule during the conference finals, building in an unusually high number of off days during each series so that its games wouldn't compete with the two-night season finale of American Idol.

"But if certain events would have occurred, we would have been up against Idol," the commish said. "We had a number of scenarios. That's just the way it is."

OK. How about this - a compromise? If you have to run The Sopranos tomorrow, why not start the game earlier? Say, 7 p.m. Eastern? That's still prime time on Sunday nights.

"Because it's going to get a higher viewing number at 9 than at 7," the commish said.

TV people. Don't you just hate them?

David Aldridge |

NBA Finals

Game 2: Cavaliers at Spurs, tomorrow at 9.

Spurs lead series, 1-0.

'Sopranos' Finale

Tomorrow at 9.
Contact staff writer David Aldridge at 215-854-5516 or daldridge@phillynews.com.