The NBA season officially starts at the end of October. Opening night is a slate of what could potentially be big games (if it was midseason) and the championship ring ceremony.
Huge NBA fans have every reason to be excited for the beginning of the season, but to the casual basketball fan, opening night is just another sporting event lost amidst a season owned by college football and the NFL. Individual games are what’s important here. And in the mindset of the football fan, every game MEANS more. To the basketball fan, eh, you lose one. So what? You have 81 more.
Early in the year, basketball doesn’t get much attention. Now, of course this can be attributed to the fact that American culture is absolutely obsessed with football, which we can see in the number of viewers and the size of television deals. But it can also be pointed to a lower quality in the product that basketball fans are experiencing.
In an 82-game season, repetition is crucial. That comes in offensive sets, defensive sets and most importantly, shooting the basketball. That’s on an individual level. As a team, repetition exists in two different styles: practice and games.
Games in an NBA season are different earlier in the year as compared to later in the year, because frankly, players and their coaching staff are not in a flow that exists once you’ve played 25 games, during their first game.
So, when the NBA regular-season schedule gets released, one of the first days everyone looks at is Christmas. The NBA has taken Christmas Day as their showcase. If you’re a sports fan, there’s only one thing you can do on Dec. 25, and that’s watch basketball. But this is not regular basketball; this is the NBA’s best teams playing each other, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Of all of the games that get played in the two-month period that exists between the NBA’s opening night and Christmas Day, Dec. 25 is the first time that basketball is being prioritized. Even with football still going on, the casual fan can sit in and watch all five games to get a better understanding of the storylines within the season and who has the best chance to win the NBA Finals.
When people tell you that professional basketball starts in late October, they are not wrong, but it would be better to say that real basketball starts getting played when everyone is opening their presents.
There’s a lot that’s been said about whether or not basketball should be played on a day that everyone spends with their families, but I have a hard time feeling bad for people that get paid way too much to play basketball. What the NBA has done here is great for their product. Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is up for you to decide, but one thing’s clear when watching basketball on Dec. 25: the NBA
2014 NBA Christmas Day Schedule
• Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks: 9:00 a.m.
• Oklahoma City Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs: 11:30 a.m.
• Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat: 2:00 p.m.
• Los Angeles Lakers @ Chicago Bulls: 5:00 p.m.
• Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers: 7:30 p.m.