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Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Nah, Humbug: Doc OK with X-Mas game

By Chris Forsberg



On the same day Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson sounded off on the NBA's beefed-up Christmas schedule, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed similar thoughts on the amount of games, but still dubbed it an honor to play on one of the league's marquee regular-season dates.

"A lot of people look at it differently; Honestly, when you play on Christmas Day, some guys are upset over it because you can't spend time with your family," said Rivers. "I look at it as a privilege. The fact that they asked us to play on Christmas means we're one of the good teams, one of the featured teams. I wish they would reduce the games on Christmas; I thought it was more special when it was two games, now it's up to five, six, or seven games. That's too many. There should be two games, it makes it more special."

Rivers can't complain about the schedule makers too much. After all, Boston spent last year in Rivers' backyard in Orlando, and will do the same this season. The Celtics tangle with the Magic at 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.

"It's far more special when it's in Orlando," joked Rivers. " I think that's where we should have all the games. I think that would be terrific, for a lot of reasons."

Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal echoed Rivers' sentiments.

"It's special because the whole world is watching," said O'Neal, who hopes to be back on the floor after missing 18 straight games no later than Saturday's holiday tilt in Orlando. "It's Christmas, it's a special day, with everybody together to spend time with each other, as far as family and friends. We have the opportunity to do that, bringing our families down with us. It makes it that much more special -- the opportunity to play in front of the rest of the world and be together at Christmas with our family."

Jackson wasn't quite as cheery about another Lakers game on Christmas.

"It used to be two teams," said Jackson. "It used to be Phoenix and L.A. and New York and Boston or New York and Philly or somebody on the East coast. Now I see that they have like six games on Christmas.

"I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day. Soccer teams don't play this time of year, they take a break. I don't understand it.... When I was in the CBA, we had a commissioner who had a Christmas Eve game. I had to call him up and say that's the holy time.

"You just have to keep reminding them that this is a special day."

And Jackson, whose squad faces the Miami Heat at 5 p.m. on Christmas Day, did his best to keep reminding the NBA of that Tuesday.

"It's like Christian holidays don't mean anything to them anymore. We just go out and play and entertain the TV. It's really weird.

"I don't know if you can adequately even prepare for these games. You don't have a walk-through on the day of the game. It's just a difficult game. ... Your little kids are putting batteries in toys to put their Christmas presents together, there's all kinds of crazy stuff going on and now your head's got to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Day? That game is just real hard to measure how to bring focus to it.

"It is what it is. We have to go to work and we'll do what we have to do and make the best of it."