The NBA has adopted Christmas as their holiday, just like the NFL and college football do with Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, respectively. It is the largest stage for the most prominent stars.
On Sunday, the Nets are glaringly absent from the schedule. Certainly, the players will appreciate some time off and the opportunity to spend the holiday with their family. But don’t assume that they wouldn’t appreciate the opportunity to perform before a national or worldwide Christmas Day audience even more.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn told The Post, “It’s still amazing to play on Christmas.” “I would enjoy being off and watching the games, but if I had an option, we would be playing. … You desire to play over the holiday season. Everyone is following the top 10 teams, and you want to be among them.”
The Nets will be in flight rather than playing.
Friday night at Barclays Center, the Nets defeated the 2021 champion Bucks by a score of 118-100. On Monday night, the Nets will travel to Cleveland to face the surging Cavaliers.
But Sunday? Despite having stars such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons, the Nets will not be among the 10 teams participating.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn stated, “If I had an option, we’d be playing on Christmas” (left).
The phrase Corey Sipkin
Ironically, this is true both because of and despite their biggest celebrity.
“Yeah, I’m probably to blame for us not planning on Christmas because of what happened this summer,” Durant admitted this week. “Nevertheless, it is what it is. “Our match on the 26th is near enough.”
What occurred was a euphemism for Kevin Durant’s trade request, which overshadowed the Las Vegas Summer League, halted league transactions, and threatened to dismantle the title contender that Sean Marks had painstakingly created in Brooklyn. When the agreement fell through, Durant attempted to dismiss Marks and then-coach Steve Nash.
Given this upheaval, Irving’s contract impasse, and the uncertainty surrounding Simmons’ mental health and surgically repaired back, it is simple to understand why NBA schedule makers opted not to book the Nets on Christmas Day. They could not have predicted the current turnaround.
Durant: Knicks vs. Nets would have packed a punch
Kevin Durant argued for a future Christmas matchup between the Nets and Knicks, as both teams have moved into playoff position.
No club in the NBA has been hotter than the Nets, who have won 12 of their last 13 games, including a league-best eight-game winning streak, to climb to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
With their Big Three, the Nets fit the mold of a club that would typically play on Christmas. And one of these celebrities believes he knows what the ideal holiday pairing would have been.
“Knicks-Nets would have made for a fantastic Christmas Day showdown,” remarked Durant. “Given how the Knicks are playing and how we are playing right now, I believe that would be the ideal Christmas game. We hope to obtain that going forward.”
On Christmas, the Nets have defeated three teams, including the Knicks (the Celtics and the Lakers last year are the others). They have played on December 25 a total of 12 times, 11 times in the NBA and once in the old ABA, and have a record of 6-6.
How the Nets spend their vacation time
This year, instead of adding to that number, they will have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off from practicing or playing, allowing them to relax with their families throughout the holidays.
Simply be with my girlfriend and my pets, Simmons told The Post. “That concludes it. No concrete plans”
Yuta Watanabe will have to settle for FaceTime chats throughout the holidays with his family in Japan, where New Year’s is more significant than Christmas.
The 26-year-old Australian is separated from the rest of his family by half the globe. After attending Montverde Academy in Florida and LSU in the United States for high school and college, he has become accustomed to not seeing them on Christmas. This is a sacrifice he is willing to make, but he would rather be playing on Sunday.
Simmons told The Post, “I love my job, so being away from my family is inevitable.” “The opportunities to play on Christmas Day are enormous. I used to watch the Christmas Day games as a child, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Australian veteran guard Patty Mills stated that he did not have any expensive plans. Nor does the reserve point guard Edmond Sumner.
“However, our [Sunday evening] flight is delayed, so I get to relax at home,” Sumner told the Post. “It will be nice to be able to unwind. I won’t be able to see my [extended] family, so I’ll just hang out with my wife.”
For some, their family will visit them.
Joe Harris is from the state of Washington, but his fiancee’s parents will fly up from Florida, he said.
The NBA schedule will reunite Nets veteran Markieff Morris with his twin brother Marcus, whose Clippers will play in their hometown of Philadelphia over the holiday weekend.
Nic Claxton, who was born in Greenville, S.C., and starred at the University of Georgia, also has family flying in from the South, including his parents and sister.
Claxton told The Post, “I’m just going to spend some time with them, have some home-cooked meals, and enjoy their company.”
North Philadelphia native Markieff Morris received a Christmas surprise from the schedule designers. His twin brother Marcus, who is seven minutes younger, plays for the Clippers, who faced the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on Friday night. This made it possible for Morris to take a fast trip down the New Jersey Turnpike and for both siblings to spend the holiday weekend at their mother’s place.
Yuta Watanabe, a native of Kagawa, Japan, is one Nets player for whom Christmas isn’t a big deal. In his culture, New Year’s Eve through January 2 are far more significant.
“New Year is the most important holiday in Japan,” Watanabe told The Post. “We do celebrate Christmas, but it isn’t as grand. In Japan, Christmas is not a family affair. It caters more to couples. And then New Year’s is a family holiday, which is quite different.
“…I’ve been here for about a decade. That means I’ve missed the last decade’s worth of New Year’s family gatherings… However, I always FaceTime them. Talk to my grandmother, uncle, cousins, and, of course, my parents. So I will do it again this year.”
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