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NBA Turns Up The Heat on Christmas Day

Posted on December 25, 2014 by Andre Smith
The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.

The NBA has used Christmas Day games as an opportunity to unveil new fashion. No telling what LeBron will be wearing this year.

Christmas is the time of the year when most people’s thoughts have turned to celebration and relaxation with family and friends. For many professional athletes, however, it marks the busiest period of the year.

Festive fixtures are a much-loved part of the sporting calendar in the UK. The English Premier League is the highest profile soccer tournament not to take a break over the holidays—often causing consternation among the foreign players and managers that ply their trade in the competition, who are not used to the rash of matches. Spain, Germany, Italy, France and others all shut down their soccer leagues for a week or so.

But Christmas sport regularly offers wonderful entertainment for spectators and television viewers.

Crunch fixtures occurred over the holidays in both the NHL and NFL, and College Football’s schedule was also packed. However, it is the NBA in particular which provided a visual feast for sports fans in 2014, with no less than FIVE matches televised live on Christmas Day.

Cleveland Cavaliers matchup with Miami Heat took headline status, with the intrigue of former Heat favorite LeBron James returning to Miami in his second stint for the Cavaliers. The watching TV millions would have been expecting to enjoy the best match of the day as they celebrate the season of goodwill.

The Christmas Day Basketball match tradition began in 1947 when the, now defunct, Providence Steamrollers lost 89-75 to the New York Knicks. It was probably in 2004, though, when Christmas Day was chosen as the showcase day for the NBA’s best fixtures.

Billed as Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O’Neal, the LA Lakers-Miami Heat matchup was so volatile that it was scheduled in a regular Christmas Day slot through to 2007.

Larry Bird had a special Christmas present waiting for Chuck Person.

Larry Bird had a special Christmas present waiting for Chuck Person.

And who could forget Larry Bird’s Christmas gift to Chuck Person?

The Boston Celtics faced the Indian Pacers. In the media before the game, Person—nicknamed the “rifleman” —delivered the pun that “the rifleman is coming, and he is going Bird hunting.”

Obviously irked by the comments, Bird replied to Person that he had a Christmas present waiting for him.

During the game, Bird attempted a three-pointer from right in front of his watching rival. As soon as the ball had left his hand, Bird turned to Person and shouted “Merry F***ing Christmas!”

The shot, of course, went in.

It might be the season of peace and goodwill, but to enjoy NBA at its best, Christmas also needs a little added spice.


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