A Basketball X-Mas
NBA players tell us how they’re spending Christmas Day—on the court or off.
by Abigail Diaz
For NBA fans across the country, the Christmas Day basketball slate is a dream come true. Your schedule is simple: Wake up, open presents, park yourself in front of the TV for 12 hours to watch hoops. But for the players on the court—or those en route to and from games—celebrating Christmas isn’t so simple. So we asked a handful of NBAers what their X-mas Day plans entailed. Here’s what we got:
— Head coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the Celtics will be celebrating their Christmas on a flight to Los Angeles, though it doesn’t seem to bother Rivers much. Doc calls it, “An honor. That [they] deem you worthy of a Christmas Day game.” He even went as far as saying that he wishes the start of the season would fall on this day every year, “Start off Christmas Day, having a tournament or something, like a college pre-season tournament. It would be awesome.”
— Being the family man he is, Brooklyn Nets forward Gerald Wallace stayed up until midnight on Christmas Eve to open presents with his kids. What did he get them? “You know kids these days—all they want is electronics. When I was a kid, it was a remote control car—but now you’re up in the Apple store saving for Christmas. It’s crazy! You got to get an iPad, iPod, or anything.”
— Knicks forward Steve Novak on being on the road this Christmas: “That’s the trade off, you’re away from the family a little bit but I’ll be with the teammates. As long as you are with one of your families—teammates or your family—we’ll take that for now.”
— Timberwolves point guard Jose Barea on playing games on Christmas Day: “It’s hard for those who are on the road, but I think it’s great for the fans. They can celebrate at home and watch games all day.”
— In Ray Felton‘s household, they celebrated Christmas early this year due to the Knicks’ schedule. Says Felton, “It’s tough. I have my son, my mom, and my dad here. This is my first time actually being away from my family on Christmas. It’s a beautiful thing to be one of those teams to play on Christmas—that’s an honor.”
— The New York Knicks are on the road this Christmas but that doesn’t faze Kurt Thomas’ family. “That’s the wonderful thing about the Internet—you can iChat and do all that. We’ll still be face to face with each another and I will still get to see them open their presents.”
— Celtics vet Paul Pierce is celebrating his Christmas back home in Los Angeles—for the first time in six years.
— Ricky Rubio won’t have the pleasure of going (all the way) home this Christmas. He told SLAM he’ll be celebrating the holidays in the comfort of his Minnesota home.
— Boston’s Jeff Green is spending his Christmas on “a long flight to L.A.” but is still deeming this Christmas his most memorable.
— Tyson Chandler on heading west for Christmas: “I am just excited to spend Christmas with my family. It’s been about 12 years since I have had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with my family. I will be able to see my grandparents, I’m looking forward to that.”