Saturday, December 25, 2010

NBA's Christmas Grinch

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When it comes to athletes and coaches whom are earning millions of dollars whining, please accept my decision that I'm not going to feel sorry for them.

When I heard that Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra and Heat forward LeBron James were complaining about playing games on Christmas and were disappointed that they couldn't spend time with their families, I nearly gagged!

For years, every sport plays on a major holiday. These fans pay lots of money so these players and coaches, etc... can make an Exceptional Living.

In baseball, long before James was ever born, fans have watched games on Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.

I've seen the NHL have games on Christmas and Jan 1st and if a team is lucky enough to make the playoffs, they'll play on Memorial Day. The NHL has even smartened up that the league has started a new tradition by staging "The Winter Classic" and showcases its marquee teams playing an outdoor game in snowy, wintery conditions. Please tell me a player that ever complained about entertaining fans at Chicago's Wrigley Field or Boston's Fenway Park.

For years, the NFL has played games on Labor Day, occasionally on Christmas, and thanks to the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, there is the annual Thanksgiving Game. The Lions took the game when nobody wanted it in the 1930's and should keep the game until the end of time. I've been very fortunate enough to cover several Lions Games at the Pontiac Silverdome. I never saw Hall of Fame Running Back Barry Sanders complain about eating his meal later in the day. The Cowboys do a nice job with the second contest.

I'm glad that the NFL Network has added the third prime time game. This will enable other cities to host the event and allow fans to enjoy the tradition that those in Detroit and Dallas have for years.

The NFL can at least claim that it owns Thanksgiving Day.

When people think of Memorial Day Weekend, they think of Motor Sports.

I've been to two Indianapolis 500's in Indiana and to see 250,000-300,000 fans tailgate, wear their favorite drivers numbers, outside the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a blast in the morning.

NASCAR's longest race of the year in Charlotte, NC., is the Coca Cola 600 and it starts in late afternoon and carries over into prime time as races could last until 11-Midnight depending on accidents.

I don't see John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon complaining about racing on Memorial Day Weekend. These drivers put their lives on the line and have had the guts to race in both events.

We all know that the NBA plays its playoff games on Memorial Day Weekend, but is there a person that really cares about the sport in the months of October, November and early December? If there is, please let me know who that individual is and I'll shake their hand.

The NBA's coming out party is on Christmas Day. Several years ago, I covered a Detroit Pistons vs Orlando Magic contest at the Amway Arena. It was a blast. I ate lunch with my broadcasting idol Brent Musberger and enjoyed speaking with Hall of Fame player Rick Barry, whose son Jon played for the Pistons.

When I was with the Hallandale Digest back in the 1980's, I wrote a story on Barry, who was interested in becoming a head basketball coach for Barry University, a private school in Miami.

But the national attention in downtown Orlando surrounding the event was enjoyable and the electricity in the building was memorable.

When James was in diapers, and Spoelstra was in grade school, NBA Commissioner David Stern inherited a league that was practically bankrupt. The NBA Finals Games were on tape delay on CBS and the NBA consisted of the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76'ers and Los Angeles Lakers.

When Larry Bird joined the Boston Celtics, and Magic Johnson landed in Los Angeles for the 1979-80 season, these two players made the league worthwhile entertainment.

I have no desire to take any shots at Jackson because, I can't see him coaching in many more holiday games. My gut feeling is when he wins the NBA title next spring, he'll retire in Montana with 12 NBA Championships under his belt.

Jackson's teams in Chicago with Michael Jordan and the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant which resulted in 11 championships, have continued to add to the legacy that Bird and Johnson created.

Back to James. This hasn't been a good year for the Akron, Ohio native from a public relations standpoint.

It started with his television show "The Decision" where he embarrassed himself and the League by making a Clown out of himself by announcing his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and "Taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat."

Now he's complaining about playing on Christmas Day and not spending time with his family. To make matters worse, he has the nerve to say that the NBA should contract/eliminate financially troubled teams.

Listen LeBron, we'll let Stern handle The League's business matters. Who knows, maybe next year at this time, if The League proceeds to lock you overpaid players out, you'll get your wish and can forfeit millions of dollars then spend Christmas Day with your family.

There will be sports on Christmas Day whether you're on television or not.

The NHL could step-up and take advantage of an opportunity and snatch a game or two. The networks can always turn to college basketball and perhaps one or two of the bowl games could schedule a game.

These outlets would be glad to play on Christmas and showcase their respective sports. I can't imagine the television networks having much trouble selling advertising since it is a big sports viewing day and has been for years.

My best advice to you Mr. LeBron James is to take your shoe and insert it directly into your mouth so no other stupid comments come out and spare us the public from listening to them! Despite the fact that you're an exceptionally talented player, you do now live in the same city of another title-less Miami legend, Dan Marino.

When you win a title, you'll have my respect. In the meantime, lace up the sneakers and be thankful you have a job the pays real well and you can make a living. Keep your mouth shut! Your shoes should be on the floor, not in your mouth!

The people that work these games at the arenas on Christmas and all of the other holidays which host events can at least make money to support themselves.

Today's NBA games will be held in New York, Orlando, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Golden State. The cities visiting for the holidays are Chicago, Boston, Miami, Denver and Portland. Five teams apiece from each conference and a lot of people that will benefit economically.

That's what we should be looking forward to today. Not some title-less Clown who always seems to make "The Wrong Decisions" when he talks.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

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