Noting the NBA’s 5 Christmas day contests, the SF Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins claimed last week that commissioner David Stern (“who celebrates Hanukkah”), “has no real feel for Christmas in the first place.” Though Jenkins has yet to say he’s sorry for attaching a pair of ancient Phil Jackson and Stan Van Gundy quotes to his innuendo about the (Jewish) Commish, he has apologized for having “addressed the issue of David Stern’s faith in any manner”. While considering the evolution of the NBA’s holiday showcase(s), the New York Times’ Harvey Araton is especially mindful of Jenkins’ week old item.
These days, it has become a sport within the sport to pillory Stern when he locks out players to cut their revenue or stands up for the legitimacy of the league’s TV contracts, which put luxury cars in their driveways. Can critics really have it both ways?
However clichéd or unfounded it was to degrade a man with Stern’s excellent credentials on many social causes of inclusiveness, no one should minimize the opinions of those who believe that Christmas is not a day for unencumbered commercialism, even if every day leading to it is.
But people do interpret and observe religion differently, and as Celtics Coach Doc Rivers noted, a fair number of folks “do work on Christmas.” Restaurants open. People go to the movies. In the long history of N.B.A. Christmas games, no one has been forced to attend or watch on television.
Other than Araton and his media colleagues. And the hot dog vendors. And ushers. I could go on, but I won’t. As Araton alludes, the movie theatre owners of America have faced no barbs from Bruce Jenkins or his cinematic equivalents (presumably a few of those owners aren’t Jews).