Culture of Hoops

Holidays in the NBA: Thanks For Playing

The American holiday season is filled with an interesting array of juxtaposing notions. As a society we generally want to rest, be with family, and celebrate traditional values. At the very same time, we also prefer to party harder than usual, enjoy excessive food, drink, love, and all of that which makes us merrier than we were before. There is a need for excess cash to fund the gifts, travel, trips, hedonistic self-worship, and time spent off that’s generated by putting in extra and often times rigorous hours of hard work. We’ll labor through a Black Friday nightmare to enjoy a Christmas Day off. We’ll diet for months on end to stuff our faces for a Thanksgiving feast. We’ll certainly work our asses off during all the other holidays to enjoy at least one free from employee obligation. When we do attain that very free day, the world knows we’ve damn well earned it and we’ll do with it what we want.

In this whirlwind of emotional expectations, a season’s sense of graciousness and humbleness seems to get deeply lost in a two-part play. There’s a demand for acknowledgment of all the extra work that one puts into making the holidays what they are or should be. A demand that does nothing really except mask the true gratitude surrounding the individual efforts of those who feel so selfless in their giving approach. Family time becomes muted due to overly filled bellies and spiked mental capacities. Relaxation turns ever so quickly into stress and the naughty, spoiled attitudes often make a star appearance during this brief time away from the grind.

In the vein of recognizing the distortion of human beauty that can elapse during the holidays, taking a moment to step out of the selfishness and into the realm of self-awareness and gratitude, I’d like to give an ode to the members of the sports world/community. You are the givers/creators of the ultimate season’s treat, big time holiday sports, and although it’s not recognized enough, we appreciate you.

Whether it be the tenacious players and respective coaching staffs alike, the tireless media contributors that spice up our beloved broadcasts, or the technical gurus that make it all happen each and every year, bringing the big shows to us in the comfort of our own homes, thank you. You guys f****** rock. We’re all so caught up in our own right to holiday, that we often consume these presents-of-tations without even giving a general consideration of the time that you spend away from your families and friends in giving America one of the greatest holiday gifts there is: Thanksgiving football, NBA Christmas, New Year’s Day bowl games, college basketball, a hockey contest or two, and, as of recent, a potential Premier League matchup-mixup for the fútbol heads.

A few weeks ago I covered a shootaround for the Los Angeles Clippers that inspired this piece. J.J. Redick was asked about his Christmas Day matchup against Golden State Warriors, and while being ultimately focused and professional throughout the duration of his time with the media, his response was genuine and grounded.

His reaction followed lively mentions of teammate Jamal Crawford, a discussion of pickup games versus NBA contests, and the usual shootaround commentary regarding team development. What ultimately triggered the awareness that motivated the writing of this article was the halt in frame of thought when Redick was summoned to think about a huge game on the the Clips’ schedule which resulted in him only thinking of the fact that he’d be away from his wife and newborn baby boy on Christmas Day. The vibe was instantly altered.

The session concluded immediately after. Redick and the Clippers went on to beat the Warriors on Christmas in rather dominant fashion, 100-86. He contributed 11 points, one rebound, and three assists.

These players, although at times they appear to be like super heroes or video game characters, are human beings just like us. They too have families and lives that are put on hold without much ever being thought of it. In the spirit of recognizing the sacrifices they make, along with all those that work diligently in providing us with all the gifts of the holiday season, I’d like to give one last shout-out to the collective: we appreciate you.

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