Roger Goodell is marking his territory on property that Adam Silver has the deed to.
When The Athletic’s Shams Charania broke the NBA’s 2022 Christmas Day schedule earlier this week, it left much to be desired — especially after the NFL released its own impressive Christmas Day slate of games.
The dramatic, made-for-TV Brooklyn Nets are nowhere to be found. Neither are the Miami Heat, who were a game away last season from making their second NBA Finals since 2020. Also missing are Zion Williamson and Paolo Banchero, or many of the younger stars that will carry the league in the coming years.
We’re stuck with the teams we always see…and the eternally lousy New York Knicks.
The Bucks and Celtics will start the day followed by the 76ers and Knicks. That means the first two games of the day will feature a matchup that’s coming on way too early in Milwaukee and Boston, and one that nobody wants to see as a franchise (New York) that’s had more coaches than postseason wins in the last 20 years has once again been granted the opportunity to lose on Christmas. The Suns/Nuggets, Lakers/Mavericks, and Grizzlies/Warriors matchups are the three games that could give the NBA the win in this battle against the NFL. However, injuries will play a big part in just how good these games will be. Last year’s Christmas Day slate was supposed to have been a sexy one for the league until injuries to Trae Young, Klay Thompson, Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis took all of the shine away.
A year after the NFL had two games on Christmas Day (the Packers beat the Browns 24-22 and the Colts defeated the Cardinals 22-16), the league is trying to rain on the NBA’s parade with a slate of games that will dominate the week of Christmas highlighted by three games on Dec. 25. There will be a Thursday night game on Dec. 22 featuring the Jaguars and Jets, followed by 11 games on Christmas Eve, and three games on Christmas that will feature the Packers/Dolphins, Broncos/Rams, and Bucs/Cardinals. The Chargers/Colts will close out the holiday slate with a Monday Night Football game on the 26th.
“Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there, all due respect to our friends at the NBA. It is something that our friends are interested in,” NFL Vice President of Broadcasting Mike North said earlier this year. “If Christmas falls on a Sunday, it makes perfect sense.”
As further proof of how much the NFL is trying to dominate the holiday season, after already owning Thanksgiving as one of their biggest annual gamedays, last week it was reported that a Black Friday game will be added to the slate as early as next season. The game will be on Amazon Prime Video, as it’s believed the streaming service paid around $100 million to exclusively stream it.
But, as much as it looks like the NBA may be slowly losing its grip on owning sports on Christmas, the league has been making its mark on another very important day. After at least 20 NBA arenas and facilities were approved as polling and voting centers for the 2020 Presidential Election, the league won’t schedule any games this season on Election Day (Nov. 8) as a way to “promote nonpartisan civic engagement and (is) encouraging fans to make a place to vote during midterm elections.”
Adam Silver’s league might have to share custody of Christmas with Roger Goodell and the NFL, but the NBA is making sure it prioritizes democracy over divisional standings.