Us NBA fans have been spoiled in years past with truly exciting Christmas day games, but this year takes the figgy pudding, er, cake. With 5 excellent matchups, we have 10 strong contenders playing. We have a possible Finals preview, a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals, a brooding rivalry, a blossoming rivalry, the best player in the game, the real best player in the game, the self-anointed king, his royal court, the best big man in the game, crafty veterans, energetic youth… you get the point.
12:00 pm ESPN
Amar’e Stoudamire was an early Hanukah present for the New York Knicks, and despite not being able to lure another NBA superstar to the Big Apple, the Knicks think that they at least have the makings of a team that can get back into the playoff picture. On Christmas Day, they’ll have to get past a team that is focused on a NBA championship, as the Bulls believe that the addition of Carlos Boozer made them the best team in the Eastern Conference, if not the NBA. Stoudamire and his new teammates will have their work cut out for them against some real Bullies. (Tickets available here, Bulls merchandise here, Knicks gear here)
2:30 pm ABC
As if this modern rivalry didn’t need any more flames to the fire, the Celtics went out and signed Shaquille O’Neal to further torment the team that he entered the NBA with so many years ago. While Shaq Diesel claims that his feud with Dwight Howard is all in good fun, there’s enough bad blood between these teams to make sure that a few people will receive lumps of coal this year. Throw in Orlando’s incredible new Amway Center and this has the makings of a classic Disney holiday. (Tickets available here, Celtics merchandise here, Orlando gear here)
5:00 pm ABC
Call LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade whatever you want – Miami Thrice, The Threet, Three Kings, etc. – but you still have to call Kobe Bryant and the Lakers the two-time defending champions. Kobe and Co. haven’t said much about LeBron taking his talents to South Beach, let alone their Christmas day Finals-caliber game, and they don’t need to. While the media has declared Miami the paper champs, L.A. is going for a third-straight title and another dynasty to add to their legacy. (Tickets available here and good luck with that, Heat merchandise here and Lakers gear here)
8:00 pm ESPN
There will be two spotlights shining directly on this matchup between Denver and the team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics, but they will be pointing in two different directions. The first light will be a marquee for the Christmas day welcome party for Kevin Durant. Despite being arguably the best player in the NBA (sorry Kobe and LeBron), there are people in the U.S. who still don’t know who this gold medal winner is. The other light will be hanging over the Nuggets as the rest of the NBA asks: “Where is Carmelo Anthony going?” Here’s a thought… he might be auditioning for his new team – the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Tickets available here, Nuggets gear here, and Thunder merchandise here)
10:30 pm ESPN
If you’re still even awake for this pumpkin pie matchup after your four-course meal of awesome, let me give you two reasons why this game will be worthwhile – 1) Brandon Roy is exciting and a superstar in the making; and B) A healthy Monta Ellis means a happy Warriors offense and that means a whole bunch of scoring. You don’t have to believe me, but you’ll be sorry when you miss it. (Tickets available here, Portland gear here, Warriors merch here)
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