SBD/Issue 71/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Phil Jackson Vocalizes Dislike Of NBA's Christmas Day Games

Jackson Frustrated With NBA Scheduling
Lakers On Christmas For 13th Time In 15 Years

The Lakers on Saturday will play their 13th Christmas Day game in the last 15 seasons, and Lakers coach Phil Jackson "is tired of it," according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN L.A. The Heat-Lakers contest at Staples Center is one of five NBA games scheduled for Saturday. Jackson last night said, "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day. ... It's like Christian holidays don't mean anything to them anymore. We just go out and play and entertain the TV. It's really weird." He added, "Your little kids are putting batteries in toys to put their Christmas presents together, there's all kinds of crazy stuff going on and now your head's got to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Day? That game is just real hard to measure how to bring focus to it." When asked if he would bring the issue to NBA Commissioner David Stern, Jackson smiled and said, "He'll see it" (ESPNLA.com, 12/21). CBSSports.com’ Ken Berger wrote on his Twitter feed, “I believe the NBA conducted business all eight nights of Hannukah, Phil” (TWITTER.com, 12/21). Meanwhile, the Celtics play the Magic Saturday, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, "Some guys are upset over it because you can't spend time with your family. I look at it as a privilege. The fact that they asked us to play on Christmas means we're one of the good teams, one of the featured teams." Rivers did add, "I wish they would reduce the games on Christmas; I thought it was more special when it was two games, now it's up to five, six, or seven games. That's too many. There should be two games, it makes it more special" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 12/22). 

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: FANHOUSE.com's Chris Tomasson reported Nuggets coach George Karl "recently expressed displeasure that his Nuggets are playing on the road for a second straight Christmas," taking on the Thunder in Oklahoma City this year. Karl said, "I'd prefer to do it in Denver. So next year, if they assign us another Christmas, if they play it in Denver, that'd be much more fun." Meanwhile, several Nuggets players spoke out on playing another game on Christmas. Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony said, "I always ask for a Christmas game, and now we get them every year, man." Nuggets G J.R. Smith: "I'm not a big fan of playing on Christmas. I would rather be home with my family. But duty calls. That's the nature of the game" (FANHOUSE.com, 12/21).

COAL IN YOUR STOCKING? The Cowboys and Cardinals also are facing off on Saturday in a game televised by NFL Network, and in Ft. Worth, Jennifer Floyd Engel writes the NFL "should not be playing" on Christmas Day, and fans "should not be watching." NHL officials "do it right," with the league "dark on Dec. 24th and 25th -- no trades, no transactions, no games." Floyd Engel adds, "Where is outrage that the NFL has decided to plop itself down and spend Christmas with everybody? Or it billing that game as a 'special holiday edition' in ads on said network?" The NFL is "totally infringing on Christmas for players and coaches and team officials and journalists and stadium workers and parking-lot attendants, and they cannot even call it a special Christmas edition" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/22).

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