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NBA Coach Laments:‘Christian Holidays Don’t Mean Anything…Anymore’

Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson is arguably one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. He’s also, apparently, one of league’s most ardent defenders of Christmas.

In an interview with, Jackson had some sharp criticism for the NBA and its increasing practice of scheduling games on the sacred holiday.

It‘s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to them anymore,” said Jackson, the son of a minister. “We just go out and play and entertain the TV. It’s really weird.”

Jackson’s team will be playing in one of five games scheduled for Christmas day. That, he said, is just ridiculous.

“I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day,” Jackson said. “Soccer teams don’t play this time of year, they take a break. I don’t understand it.”

“When I was in the CBA [Continental Basketball Association], we had a commissioner who had a Christmas Eve game. I had to call him up and say that’s the holy time. … You just have to keep reminding them that this is a special day.”

While many of Jackson’s concerns are philosophical, he also said the Christmas games pose a practical problem: preparation.

“I don’t know if you can adequately even prepare for these games,” Jackson said. “You don’t have a walk-through on the day of the game. It’s just a difficult game. … Your little kids are putting batteries in toys to put their Christmas presents together, there‘s all kinds of crazy stuff going on and now your head’s got to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Day? That game is just real hard to measure how to bring focus to it.”

Jackson said he will be bringing his concerns to NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The Lakers play the Miami Heat at 2 p.m. ET on Christmas day.


Do you agree with him? Should the players get a Christmas break?

Answer Question

Asked by SavageGrl at 3:46 PM on Dec. 22, 2010 in Religious Debate

Level 18 (6,045 Credits)
Answers (33)
  • SavageGrl

    Comment by SavageGrl (original poster) at 3:47 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • I don't think they should have games on Thanksgiving either.


    Answer by yourspecialkid at 3:52 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • I'm not a big sports fan but I'm glad to see at least one coach who thinks it's crazy to play on Christmas. I know not everyone celebrates Christmas an I also know that other people work on Christmas Day. My husband is one of them. He's a security guard. But... the masses must be entertained.

    Answer by duckigrrl at 3:58 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • I agree. I don't think they should play on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or Easter. All of those are holidays that are supposed to be spent with your family.

    Answer by Snewo at 3:59 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • I'm not Christian, but I agree with him. Why play on Christmas day? If not most of the players are Christian, I bet a huge number of their fans are. Who watches Basketball on Christmas Day? Silly. If banks are closed, then basketball courts can be too.

    Answer by SuperChicken at 4:04 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • They should be able to enjoy the holidays with their family.

    Answer by arenad at 4:04 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • Plenty of people work on the holidays. The NBA has decided to included the holidays as part of their "entertainment" season- so, it must be lucrative. It's always about the money, rightly or wrongly. If Jackson is willing to take the $$$$$ that the Dr gives him, then he needs to hush up and do the job. Jackson has the option to walk away from that job (and the $$$$)- time to put his money where his mouth is...or hush it!


    Answer by Sisteract at 4:06 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • Suppose that no sports were being played during this break in winter. Would everyone stop hunting also, or is that already a non holiday event also planned around the holidays. It seems it could be a vie for giving some attention to who is really taking sides to this on a realistic level and who is treating it as just another thorn in their side, of which is more an issue on them having their rights infringed upon as well. In the light of that also this is the facts. OTHER people need to work on the holiday centered times of year. they are also paid more money to do that extra work during those days. Some make it a sacrifice to take those days, and others are saved for those which need exposure to it, so families get a break that do want time with no interruption.

    Answer by coffeeyum at 4:08 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • Historically the Lakers always field a good team, one of the best most years. The best are always involved in holiday match- ups (think $$$$). Jackson is probably tired of always pulling holiday duty.

    Answer by Sisteract at 4:08 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

  • Far from Christian, but, I agree with him. These Holidays are meant to be spent with family.

    Answer by Kaelansmom at 4:12 PM on Dec. 22, 2010

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