No Rest For Stern's Merry Gentlemen

In David Stern’s league, nobody balls on Christmas Eve. But a number of the NBA’s merry gentlemen won’t be resting on Christmas Day, as 10 teams will do battle during a TV quintuple-header on three of the pro hoop circuit’s national carriers.

If the Blue-Gray college football All-Star game has been relegated like so much coal in the stocking, the NBA will let you and your kids open the presents under the tree before providing more than 12 hours of action courtesy of ESPN, ABC and TNT.

First up: the spirits of seasons future will appear on ESPN in the form of the New Orleans Hornets’ Chris Paul and the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard at noon.

Tipping at 2:30 p.m., ABC will conjure the spirits of seasons past with the Big Shactus, Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns taking on their playoff nemesis, the San Antonio Spurs.

In Stern’s realm, the spirits of seasons past, present, future and always will manifest in Staples, where Kobe’s crew will try to exact some measure of revenge against the Boston Celtics, which took their 17th NBA crown at the expense of the Lakers last June. Make no mistake, though, this year’s Cs are no Tiny Tim, riding to LA with a franchise-best 19-game winning streak that has fueled a 27-2 start, the top tipoff in league history. One has to question whether this game would have been better positioned in primetime, after the turkey and cranberry sauce had been served and the sweets and good cheer (s) are flowing.  

Instead, that scheduling falls to the Washington Wizards, who without Gilbert Arenas are the only misfit toy in the NBA’s XMAS bag. They will visit the anointed son, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers, owners of a 14-0 mark at the Q, on TNT at 8 p.m.

The festivities conclude on the drama network at 10:30 p.m., when billionaire HD Net owner Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks invade the Rose Garden and Charter topper Paul Allen and his Portland Trail Blazers.

For those who must get their football fix: the only game in town the next couple of days is ESPN’s coverage of the Hawaii Bowl at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, showcasing the Warriors and Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish looking to end a nine-game post-season losing streak. Don’t know whether Charlie Weis has been naughty or nice enough to have Santa grant that wish.

Happy holidays to all.