In the case of Dwayne Wade, perhaps it was a matter of not wanting to create bulletin board fodder.
The Miami Heat guard, who sat out last night’s win againt Phoenix so he and his injured knee would presumably be front and center for ABC’s coverage of his team versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas at 5 p.m. (ET), said the contest was interesting because of who it was against and where. That these were great storylines, but the game itself wouldn’t establish championship pedigree.
For his part, LA point guard Derek Fisher gave the battle a bit of juice saying, in effect, that while it might be a measuring stick from the upstarts from South Beach, it wasn’t so much for the two-time defending champions.
Fisher’s coach Phil Jackson was more blunt, bemoaning having to play on Christmas at all, while the Heat’s would-be King LeBron James doesn’t care for it either.
While everybody would certainly prefer to be home to celebrate the holiday with their family, not everyone is lucky enough to bring home millions for coaching or playing hoops.
None of this amounts to the kind of publicity the NBA, ESPN and ABC need for their five-game stocking stuffer of ballgames on Dec. 25, which the pro hoops league wants to turn into its TV equivalent of the NFL on Thanksgiving.
That might be a particularly tough sell next season, considering the league’s contract with the players’ association is about to end and NBA commissioner David Stern wants to reduce salaries to $1.3 billion from $2.1 billion.
If that’s not bad enough, grand decision-maker James is also talking about contraction being a good thing because more good players would be on fewer teams — meaning the Christmas contests wouldn’t be so special because there would be more anticipated games throughout the season.
With thinking like that, the only ones rolling out balls on Christmas 2011 might be the kids who find new Spaldings under their trees.