As the 12 days of Christmas approach, this year’s halls may very well be decked with beer and hot wings. The National Basketball Association is back, but it’s certainly not a priority on my Christmas wish list. Santa came early this year for ardent NBA fans, and his bag of gifts contained the surge of Nov. 26 headlines that announced a tentative deal to end the league lockout and begin a shortened, 66-game season. Games for the 2011-2012 season are slated to begin on Christmas Day.
For me, sports games on holidays exist as little more than white noise in the background of a cozy home full of hungry relatives. I come from a moderately athletic family that boasts a couple high school thousand-point scorers who went on to play collegiate basketball, but I’d be remiss if I said that this year, more than any before it, we will be watching the Bulls game and drinking hot chocolate and eggnog together.
As of late, my point of view on this heated matter seems to mark my place in the 1 percent. For NBA enthusiasts, the long-awaited return of the absent league has middle-aged men overwhelmingly anxious for the opening tip-off between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics like children waiting up for Santa Claus. They’ve been making fantasy draft lists, checking them twice. Are the Philadelphia 76ers going to be naughty or nice?
With first-of-the-season tip-off games customarily occurring in October, NBA aficionados are more enthused to remain motionless on the couch this holiday than ever before. If these fans are anything like me, they’ll probably overindulge on appetizers and mashed potatoes, and languish in a food coma on the couch by mid-afternoon. The more comfort food, the more time we allot to the reclined position on the living room couch in front of the array of pregame reports, postgame evaluations and repetitive highlight reels, not to mention the games themselves. For fans, this couldn’t be a better way to attempt to cover lost ground.
Instead of tuning your television to the continuingly burning Yule Log while you un-stuff your stocking, you can instead take pleasure in 14 hours of professional basketball in an effort to make up for the 16 games your team lost as a result of the lockout.
Personally, I’d rather flip to the annual 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story,” and learn yet again to always drink my Ovaltine, and that the Red Rider BB-gun will shoot my eye out.
Televised games certainly aren’t uncommon on holidays, but this year’s Christmas Day blockbuster matchups are sure to attract a record number of viewers. I’ve never personally been one to follow professional basketball, but lately the headlines have been too incredible to dismiss. Perhaps the most undeniable thing about these loud, recurring headlines are the incredible player salaries, even after the extensive lockout controversy.
Unfortunately for me, the NCAA doesn’t allow me to get paid for my athletic endeavors, but something tells me that collegiate field hockey wouldn’t bear a paycheck as colossal as that of an NBA player. The New York Knicks negotiated a contract with center Tyson Chandler for $58 million over the next four years, confirming that my holiday spending budget is embarrassingly miniscule in proportion to what some of these players will make in the time it takes them to put up their first few points of the 2011-2012 season. Some contract deals haven’t been so sweet, though.
NBA Commissioner David Stern looked more like Ebenezer Scrooge to followers after his initial rejection of the grandiose Chris Paul three-team trade. The decision of the league to reject trade deal that involved the Hornets, the Lakers and the Rockets demonstrates that, although the NBA is back, it certainly is not better than ever. For many, this is just another eerie taste of the controversy in professional basketball, as the obsession with skyscraping salaries that aggressively outdo one another seems to highlight illicit behavior in the league.
But throughout all the corrupt bargaining and (seemingly) never-ending monetary debacles since last season, the NBA has found a way to boisterously jump back on the hardwood court and into primetime television to serve as the star on top of this year’s tree.
Don’t worry if you’re not over the river and through the woods by noon.... The midday tip-off between the Celtics and the Knicks is only the first of five games to air throughout the holiday, so you’ll have more to feast on that just the Christmas ham or your aunt’s famous homemade cookies.
This Christmas, when you’re nestled next to the Miami Heat of the chimney, NBA fans will replace the three kings with some from Sacramento. Reindeer from the North Pole will be substituted with a more athletic breed, like a herd of Bucks from Milwaukee.
And don’t worry—there’s still three French hens, two turtle doves and a Detroit Piston in a pear tree.
Ashley Camano is a Trinity sophomore.