Short of some virtual, two-way Skype feed that allows the Heat to stay in Miami and the Lakers to stay in Los Angeles while playing a real-time game against each other, I’m not sure how to help Dwyane Wade. He took a legitimate beef to the NBA’s commissioner-in-waiting, Adam Silver, by asking why the Heat were ordered to southern California for a Christmas Day game when they’ve won the last two NBA championships.
Shouldn’t his team, by virtue of its title reign, at least receive the perk of playing the Christmas game in Miami so that Wade, LeBron James and teammates can spend part of the day with their families? Silver said he would take the suggestion under advisement, according to USA Today.
I have a better idea.
How about not playing on Christmas, period?
Yes, I’m aware that commercial greed has swallowed this sacred time of year, with holiday lights hanging at my mall in Santa Monica about an hour after the last Miley Cyrus Halloween tongue was sold. Still, why must we have five NBA games, beginning at noon in the East and finishing well past midnight on the 26th, a relentless blob of early-season basketball that provides nothing of worth but background dribble noise? The NFL is playing the entirety of its Week 17 games on Sunday, which is perfectly fine. College football’s bowl season is pausing its mega-bloated schedule for Christmas, which is perfectly fine, giving us plenty of time to digest the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl while waiting for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl. But as Santa Claus goes home, there’s old David Stern continuing to slide down chimneys everywhere, despite criticism from Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy — and me — that a non-stop NBA blitz on Dec. 25 might be a bit insensitive to the religious meaning of Christmas.
“If you ask any player, we’d rather be home with our families,” James said. “It’s definitely one of those days that you wish you could wake up in the morning with the kids and open up presents.”
“It used to be two teams. But I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day,” Jackson said last year, per the San Francisco Chronicle. “Your little kids are putting batteries in their new toys, all kinds of family stuff going on, and now you’re supposed to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon?”
I can’t name a memorable NBA game played on Christmas. With injuries and big-city meltdowns turning the league into a multi-car pileup this season, the holiday fare is especially weak. Chicago, without Derrick Rose, is in Brooklyn to play a Nets team looking like the most expensive debacle in NBA history. Oklahoma City is performing well, but the Knicks are a farce. The Heat flew 3,000 miles to play a Lakers team that doesn’t have Kobe Bryant but does have Xavier Henry. The nightcaps have a chance to be good — Houston at San Antonio, L.A. Clippers at Golden State — but by then, aren’t we all wiped out from food, family and Fido?
One game, I might tolerate. But when five are scheduled over 13 hours, and at least three are lumps of coal anyway, it’s time to question why the National Basketball Association is hijacking a holy holiday.