It is not really a secret most major holidays come with a slate of games dedicated to one sport or another. Thanksgiving belongs to the NFL, New Year’s Day belongs to college football, Independence Day belongs to MLB and Boxing Day belongs to soccer.
For the past two decades, Christmas has belonged to the NBA but it seems like it still gets overlooked when talking about the major holiday sports schedules.
People plan their Thanksgiving days around the football schedule but no one seems to even know basketball games are happening when they wake up for Christmas. I know this may be due mostly to the fact I live in Alabama and there is not a whole lot of interest in the NBA but I want you give it a chance this year. Because the slate of games Wednesday is one that will make you a fan of the NBA.
I did not grow up watching basketball during my Christmas festivities. In fact, I remember more holidays watching the Aloha Bowl than the NBA.
However, the more I fell in love with the league, the more I realized the Christmas games are must-watch TV every year. It also helps the Philadelphia 76ers are good again and will be on the schedule this year.
Wednesday tips off at 11 a.m. with a game between the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics which is fine because everyone is still enjoying family time and opening presents so no one needs to watch that one. Of course, if you do not hold a personal vendetta against those two teams like I do, you may think it’s worth the watch because it is two teams currently in the top four of the Eastern Conference standings.
Of course, the real conference showdown begins at 1:30 p.m. on ABC. The Sixers will play the Milwaukee Bucks as Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Company square off with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
I have a rooting interest in that one but I will say the league has never seen a talent like Antetokounmpo and if you have never seen him play, you should tune in. I hope you see him fail miserably so you can fall in love with Embiid and my Sixers but falling in love with basketball is important too I guess.
The afternoon game is one the NBA may be regretting as the rivalry between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors does not exist too much when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are sidelined with injuries. Meanwhile, James Harden will just toy with a bunch of rookies and somehow make scoring 50 points look boring.
The primetime game is what most people expect to be the game of the day as LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers face Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers. Plenty of people believe this could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals and the two teams are living up to the hype as they control the top two spots in the conference.
Whether you think LeBron James is the greatest player of all-time (he is) or not, you cannot deny his ability on the court, especially at the age of 34. Every time I watch him play, it feels like he does something no one else in the league can do and that’s saying a lot with the amount of talent in basketball right now. Plus the other three stars in this one are fun to watch too.
This is not a call to abandon all of your other Christmas celebrations and please do spend time with your loved ones as much as you can. But if you get the chance, tell them about the great basketball games on TV and tune in for plenty of entertainment throughout the day.
Enjoy the basketball and have a very merry Christmas.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Herald.