All I Want From an NBA Christmas
Instead of his two front teeth, Kobe is getting his two worst enemies on Christmas Day when Cleveland visits L.A. to highlight the December 25th matchups this coming NBA season. LeBron, the reigning MVP of the league, will be flanked by Kobe’s former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal in the first and only meeting between the two since Kobe won his first title without Shaq.
This will be Shaq and Kobe’s fourth collision on Christmas in the past five years. This time, however, is going to be much different. Kobe has made it a habit to shine on Christmas. Last year alone he hung 27 points and 9 boards on the Boston Celtics in a 92-83 domination by the Lakers.
Not to be outdone, last year Shaquille scored 23 points and hauled down 12 boards while trying to outlast a ferocious Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs last Christmas. LeBron James, on the other hand, was a ghost of his MVP-self, posting just 18 points in a near-loss to the woeful Washington Wizards last Christmas. So what can be said when the titanic Lakers clash with the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Well if anything is uncanny, it’s the fact that both Kobe and LeBron averaged 19.5 points against each other last season in two games. While LeBron took home the coveted MVP honors, Kobe was the one who took home the NBA Championship and the Bill Russell Award as the Finals MVP. It will be a battle of the best, and while the spotlight is on LeBron and Shaq bringing a championship to Cleveland this year, I’m positive that Kobe, Lamar and Pau Gasol will have plenty to say about that when it’s time to open the presents on Christmas Day.
The schedule makers were kind enough to give us a generous five-game tilt on Christmas Day. To open the day, at noon we get to watch Dwyane Wade and the Heat run all over the Knicks. Don’t worry, if you’ve got presents to open or family to appease, it’s probably a game that you can skip. The Heat went 2-1 SU against the Knicks, as both teams reached triple-digits in all three games.
Following the battle of New York and Miami will be a mega-tilt between the renewed Boston Celtics and the revamped Orlando Magic. Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace going to work against Dwight Howard as Paul Pierce tries to drive Vince Carter to the point of tears. This is a star-studded game that nobody will want to miss as Boston and Orlando try to prove which team is the true challenger to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference. Is it the Eastern Conference Champions of 2007 (Boston), or the Eastern Conference Champions of 2008 (Orlando)?
At 8:00pm EST, just when everyone is sitting down for dinner, you can go ahead and concentrate on family time because the Clippers and Suns will be proving who’s worse on national television. Blake Griffin vs. Amare Stoudemire will probably gain some steam…unless Griffin is injured by then or Amare’s eyeballs have fallen out. Ok, that’s mean. I’m not intentionally wishing ill on these guys, but do you really care about Clippers-Suns when there’s a juicy, 20-pound turkey stuffed with bacon on your table? Do you?!
Thankfully, a pair of young gunners in the West will provide the perfect night cap as Portland square off at 10:30pm EST. Last year both teams went 2-2 SU against each other and faltered down the stretch. Andre Miller will try to contain Chauncey Billups as Brandon Roy tries to figure out if Greg Oden is worth hanging around for. Is there anybody other I’d rather be hanging out with on Christmas night than the Birdman? If my girlfriend is reading, then the answer is “yes’, but you and I both know what I really want.
You go ahead and plan Christmas with the family. I’m planning mine with a case of beer, a 20 pound bird, and Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin (hopefully), Dwight Howard, David Lee, Ray Allen, Jameer Nelson, Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo and Vince Carter. It may only be mid-summer, but after seeing this NBA Schedule I can already say, “Merry Christmas to us!”