TL's Sunday Sports Notes | Dec. 19
@WhileYoungIdeas @DigSportsDesk Look at NBA Christmas past/present
BOSTON - I’m dreaming of a “Wilt” Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 59-point, 36-rebound Christmas Day performance for the Philadelphia Warriors in their 136-135 double-overtime loss to the New York Knickerbockers back in 1961. The game was one of a seven-game streak when Chamberlain scored 50-or-more points (Dec. 16-29). Chamberlain’s rebounding total remains a Christmas Day record. His scoring total stood as a Christmas Day record for 22 years before Bernard King’s 60-point game for the Knicks in a 120-114 loss to the New Jersey Nets in 1984. Both games took place at Madison Square Garden in NYC.
The NBA began playing games on Christmas Day in 1947, in its second year and this season, the league has scheduled five games on Christmas Day for the 14th year in a row.
Here is this Saturday’s NBA on Christmas Day schedule:
Noon: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks (ESPN): The Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks will meet on Christmas Day for the first time since the Hawks moved to Atlanta (which took place in 1968). The teams faced each other twice on Christmas Day when the Hawks were in St. Louis (1956 and 1965). This will mark the first time the Hawks have been scheduled to play on December 25th since 1989. The Knicks have played 53 times on Christmas, the NBA team high.
2:30pm ET: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks (ABC): The Celtics have played the third-most games on Christmas Day (34 entering 2021, trailing only NY and the LA Lakers) and the most road games on Christmas Day (29 entering 2021). Milwaukee will be hosting a Christmas Day game for the second consecutive year. The Bucks are (4-3) on the holiday with last year’s 138-99 stocking full of coal deposited on the Golden State Warriors.
5:00pm ET: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns (ABC/ESPN Radio): The Suns are (12-6) on the holiday and the Warriors are (13-17). Phoenix’s last Christmas Day game came in 2009, a 124-93 win vs. LA Clippers. Golden State’s Draymond Green was the last player to record a triple-double on the holiday, and is one of six players to do so on Christmas Day: Draymond Green (2017), Russell Westbrook (2013), LeBron James (2010), Billy Cunningham (1970), John Havlicek (1967) and Oscar Robertson (four times: 1967, 1963, 1961 and 1960).
8:00pm ET: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers (ABC/ESPN Radio): The LA Lakers are scheduled on Christmas Day for the 23rd straight year. They have the most all-time victories on 12/25 with 24. Lakers center DeAndre Jordan holds the single-game record for most blocked shots on Christmas Day with eight for the LA Clippers against the Golden State Warriors in 2011. LeBron James ranks second in career points on Christmas Day with 383. He needs 13 points to pass the late Kobe Bryant (395) and become the all-time leading scorer on 12/25 when he has a (10-5) won-loss record which trails only Dwyane Wade’s (10-3) record. Meanwhile, the highest-scoring game by an active player on Christmas Day belongs to the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, who had 44 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Denver Nuggets in 2010. KD fell 16 points shy of Bernard King’s record.
10:30pm ET: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz (ESPN): The nightcap will feature Dallas’ Luka Dončić against Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, all three named NBA All-Stars last season. Both franchises are relative newcomers to the NBA on 12/25 tradition, with Dallas (2-2) and Utah (5-2). The Jazz games on Christmas Day have all been played at home (including two as the New Orleans Jazz).
TIDINGS of JOY: The NBA’s first foray of Christmas Day game came in 1947 when the Baltimore Bullets defeated the Chicago Stags 87-70 at Baltimore Coliseum. The same day, the New York Knicks defeated the Providence Steamrollers 89-75 at Madison Square Garden and the Washington Capitols won at St. Louis Bombers 73-56 at St. Louis Arena. The 56 point effort is the all-time low for Santa. … The last time there was just a single game on Christmas was 2006 when the Miami Heat defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 101-85 at Miami’s American Airlines Arena.
CAMDEN TRADITION CONTINUES FOR the WAGNER FAMILY: Remember Milt Wagner, a former NBA star who made his name and game at Camden High in south New Jersey or at the University of Louisville? Maybe you remember Milt’s son, Dejaun, another Camden player who went on to play at Memphis and was the sixth overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft (to Cleveland). This past Friday, Milt’s grandson, Dejaun’s son, a high school junior, DJ, scored 25 points to lead Camden to a 67-64 come-from-behind win over Roselle Catholic at Camden’s brand new joint, the Clarence Turner Gymnasium. Heading into the game, Camden was ranked No 1 in the State and Roselle Catholic was No. 2 a ranking which proved correct as Camden won its 39th straight game. Camden is ranked as the No. 2 team in the USA by MaxPreps who holds Duncanville (Texas) as the No. 1 high school team with their (11-0) record. Simeon Wilcher, a North Carolina commit, led Roselle Catholic with 21 points and seven rebounds. Akil Watson, a junior transfer from Don Bosco Prep, added 17 points and seven boards.
NBA VALUATIONS: This week marked Sportico’s second run at its NBA franchise valuations, and it underlined two important things in the sports industry. First, how time flies from one year to the next. Secondly, how the value of sports franchises accrue in a single year, regardless of the won-loss column.
Here’s the list of 2021-22 NBA Team Valuations, and we’ll discuss on the other side:
$6.12 billion - New York Knicks (+13%)
$6.030 billion - Golden State Warriors (+16%)
$5.630 billion - Los Angeles Lakers (+10%)
$3.610 billion - Brooklyn Nets (+6%)
$3.530 billion - Chicago Bulls (+12%)
$3.44 billion - Boston Celtics (+8%)
$3.160 billion - Los Angeles Clippers (+20%)
$2.790 billion - Houston Rockets (+1%)
$2.740 billion - Toronto Raptors (+7%)
$2.720 billion - Dallas Mavericks (+5%)
NOTES: The New Orleans Pelicans ($1.510b), the Memphis Grizzlies ($1.530b) and the Minnesota Timberwolves ($1.570b) were on the low end of the spectrum in NBA franchise value, according to Sportico. … Keep in mind, the Timberwolves were amongst the four 1988-89 NBA expansion franchises that bought in for $32.5 million while the Grizzlies, then in Vancouver and the Toronto Raptors’ expansion fees were a whopping $125 million.
Says Sportico: “The NBA’s pitch to incoming investors includes opportunities also available in other leagues—around gambling, streaming and digital. A key differentiator, however, is the international prospects, despite the league’s ongoing tension in China, where business has returned to pre-pandemic levels. In addition to the Bibigo investment in the Lakers, a Chinese electronic trading platform, Webull Financial, signed a sponsorship pact with the Brooklyn Nets worth $30 million a year, while Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten extended its $20 million-a-year patch deal with the Warriors at an increase.” … The newfound money as US States open up to full sports gambling on top of Fantasy Sports gaming is “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to New York’s MSG Sports president Andrew Lustgarten.
“The NBA is the dominant U.S. league in terms of international investor appeal,” sports banker Sal Galatioto said to Sportico. “People from all over the world want to invest in the NBA, and that’s a huge advantage.”
From my vantage point, I’d double-down on the vast international appeal of the NBA. There is one - often overlooked reason and that is the simple fact that the sport of basketball is played by both men and women all over the world. Nearly every person on the planet has played the game in some small form, not to mention that the rules of the game are pretty simple. That fact is a huge advantage over American Football and Baseball. Often noted is another sports fact. The truly global team sports are soccer (Futbol) and basketball. However, great Futbol players are spread-out, playing in leagues all over the world, from Brazil to Argentina to England to Spain to Germany. They play for their native countries in World Cup competition but during the “regular season” they’re all over the world. The NBA has all of the greatest players in the world playing in one league. That league is the only way a world class player can test his skills against the very best.
BIG EAST: The BIG EAST Conference is taking names, cancelling games and chalking-up forfeits. The Creighton at DePaul game, which was scheduled for Monday, December 20, was canceled due to COVID-19-20-21 issues in the DePaul program. Per BIG EAST policy, DePaul was forced to forfeit the game and a loss will be assigned in the conference standings. Creighton will be assigned a win. … BIG EAST policy states that if a conference game cannot be played on its originally scheduled date due to an insufficient number of available players (including as a result of COVID), that team shall be deemed to have forfeited with a loss assigned to that team. A win will be assigned to its opponent. The win and loss will be applied to the league standings. … Earlier this week, the same thing happened to Seton Hall who forfeited a home game against St. John’s. … You’d think the conference could re-schedule the games?
BIG BAD BRUINS BREAK: The NHL is taking major steps to control the latest bout with COVID-19-20-21 and the league said in a statement “as a result of additional positive cases and concern with the continued spread of COVID-19, the (Bruins’) games will be postponed through Sunday, December 26.” The decision was made following consultation by the NHL’s, the NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups. As an appropriate precaution, the team’s training facilities have been closed, effective immediately, and will remain closed for players until further notice. The league is in the process of reviewing and revising the Bruins regular season schedule. The Bruins organization has followed, and will continue to follow, all recommended guidelines aimed at protecting the health and safety of its players, staff and community at large as set by the NHL, local, and national agencies. … The Boston Bruins announced on December 18, that forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar were placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. … The NHL’s Nashville Predators’ games will also be postponed at least through the scheduled completion of the league’s Holiday Break in the schedule through Dec. 26. … Tickets for postponed Bruins home games on December 21 against Carolina and December 23 against Colorado will remain valid for the rescheduled dates, which are yet to be determined.
OVERALL: The severe outbreak of COVID-19 (Delta and Omicron variants) worldwide, has spiked to record numbers of positive cases. The NFL had over 100 players in the league’s COVID+ protocol program, while the NBA, NHL and Colleges were cancelling and re-scheduling games. New York City is seeing some 21,000 cases a day and it forced the closing of some plays and Radio City Music Hall’s annual Christmas Show, featuring the famous Rockettes.
WHO TUBE? As the College Bowls begin, YouTube TV made the major step and dropped Disney-owned ABC, ESPN, FX and various affiliates. ESPN2, ESPNU and assorted others went down with the exodus, as well, some during game programming. YouTube TV is owned by Google.
IDEAS FOR HOLIDAYS GIFTS: We have two great offerings for your Holiday gift guide.
NOTES, NOTES, AND MORE NOTES: A year-long subscription to TL’s Sunday Sports Notes - While We’re Young (Ideas) is a perfect way to have the sports fan in your life look forward to an old-fashioned, weekly, notebook full of sports insights. Sign-up for this special offer: HERE
PGA TOUR BRUNCH AS CHAMPIONS RETURN OF THE TOUR: Plans are on-going to re-launch the popular PGA Tour Brunch newsletter when the pros tee-it-up at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (January 5-9, 2022) at The Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
SIGN-UP HERE FOR PGA TOUR BRUNCH.
Parting Words & Music:
On December 23, 2019, I saw a FaceBook post and smiled. It was from the great Ray Amati, one of the NBA’s behind-the-scenes photographers who had such a simple, humble way about him that he easily became friends with hundreds of NBA players, famous rock ‘n roll musicians, and all of the NBA staff. That December day, Ray was flying to Florida for a little Christmas break. He wrote: “Yeah, I know...……….. I'm a day early!!!!! But, traveling tomorrow so just keep playing this as LOUD AND AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN!!!!!! Wishing all my FB family & friends a VERY Merry Christmas...………
It was Ray Amati’s last message to his friends on Facebook as he passed away the next day en route to Florida.
After the passing of NBA Commissioner David Stern (on January 1, 2020) which started off the worst year of our collective lives, I wrote a lengthy tribute combining thoughts on both David and Ray. One paragraph resonated:
“If you picture the National Basketball Association as a library with one very long bookshelf, the life and times of Stern and Amati might be at opposite ends of the shelf, like bookends. But, each were incredible biographies in themselves, with dozens of well illustrated chapters. By reading them, knowing them really, you learn more about life, and the game. Again and again.” - Terry Lyons