Ignore every other page in the “365 Days of Sunshine, Beaches, and the Triangle Offense Calendar” but December 25th, because Christmas Day games have become a tradition in LA. They are the most important day on the LA and NBA sports calendar that isn’t the Finals. And the league has absolutely piggy-backed off the success of the now traditional Lakers’ Christmas Day games.
Christmas Day games aren’t a new phenomenon. There were classic games like Bernard King dropping 60 points for the Knicks in 1984, and the Bulls Scottie Pippen blocking a last second shot in 1994. But with increased access to television and 24/7 coverage, and instant debate on second screens like Twitter and Facebook; Christmas Day games are hyped up the Yao Ming Yang and draw huge audiences. Kobe and the Lakers would like to go on the record, “You’re welcome.”
Christmas is a day even the college bowl games stay away from since it has been appropriated by the Angel of Stern on the back of Los Angeles.
Like Thanksgiving is known for the Lions and Cowboys playing, it’s a Los Angeles tradition to watch the Lakers play on Christmas Day. Both the NBA and NFL have similarly built on their holiday success. The NBA has 5 games on Christmas. The NFL broadcast 3 games on Thanksgiving this year. The program was deep, like the NFL’s pockets. The Thanksgiving games that November Thursday have been so successful for the NFL that they expanded games to every Thursday this season on NFL Network, excluding weeks 16 and 17.
The empirically proven, never wrong—like Skip Bayless on any segment of ESPN’s First Take—Wikipedia decrees
Unlike the National Football League’s November holiday games, the Thanksgiving Classic games, Christmas Day games in the National Basketball Association have no fixed opponents.
Really Wikipedia? This is a virtually published denial to assert that the Lakers aren’t a fixture in the Christmas Day schedule. The Lakers are fixed to Christmas day.
Since the Shaq and Kobe feud exploded, and culminated on a Christmas Day pre-game handshake in 2004 that made any Bill Belichick post game hand shake look like middle school drama. That Lakers and Heat matchup of former 3 time NBA champion teammates earned a 7.3 rating in the flawed Nielsen rating system. The game closest to that rating was 2 years ago game between the defending NBA champion Lakers and the newly constructed Big 3 in Miami earning a 6.4 fast rating.
Miami is the only other team with any claim on Christmas, since they can co-claim the highest flawed ratings. But the Lakers are constants in the Christmas equation, and the Heat’s importance was birthed and reborn in direct opposition to the Lakers. Miami’s original claim to Christmas was only built on the Lakers’ Shaq taking his 7ft talents to South Beach.
There are a total of 5 games on Christmas this year. 5 games! Admittedly at this point in the season, the Lakers aren’t even arguably in the top 4 of teams playing. But Boston-Brooklyn, Lakers-Knicks, Miami-Oklahoma City, Chicago-Houston, Clippers-Nuggets are all playing thanks to this important showcase of a Los Angeles tradition.
Respectfully to the Stanley Cup Champion Kings, the Dodgers and Angels who broke the banks, the back to back MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy, and the much better than the Lakers, Clippers—Los Angeles first and only love is the Lakers, and watching them on Christmas isn’t even viewed as a present, it’s a tradition. It’s not our right to play on Christmas, but we do. Other players and cities have complained about playing on Christmas, and they have cause for complaint. But Christmas Day games really are the NBA’s present to itself, and LA has embraced it as the figurehead of our sports calendar.
The NBA and LA showcase the sunshine and warmth on a Christmas Day in Los Angeles, and just how perfectly Kobe’s 5 rings sparkle in the sunlight. The rest of the country can be jealous of the weather and winning tradition, or enjoy the spectacle of the Lakers imploding. But sure enough they will watch and so will we, it’s a tradition.