Occasionally when you write a nightly column about the ever-evolving world of sports, you find yourself changing your opinion on certain issues. If this were politics I guess you could call it flip-flopping, but since we're dealing with far less serious issues here I'll simply label it as being fickle.
I was always of the opinion that the NFL should stick to tradition when scheduling Thanksgiving games -- that since the Lions began the tradition and the Cowboys further popularized playing on Thanksgiving, that it was only right to annually have Turkey Day home games in both Detroit and Dallas.
But after taking in the NBA's epic five-game marathon on Christmas Day, it's clear to me that I was wrong -- just as the NFL is wrong to treat the day as an homage to the past rather than a showcase of the league's best.
Rarely does the NBA register on my radar before the Super Bowl, but I found myself transfixed to the TV for much of the day -- and not just because I needed to get away from my family and their endless loop of Christmas songs. Most of the games were not only entertaining, but each one was star-studded. If it wasn't Chris Paul and Dwight Howard it was Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett or LeBron James and Gilbert Arenas (in a suit…OK, so you can't have it all). In total, nine of the league's top 12 teams were in action, including the much-anticipated NBA Finals rematch between the Lakers and Celtics, which went down to the wire and certainly lived up to the hype.
With no college bowl games or NFL games scheduled, the NBA not only took over Christmas Day, it used the holiday as a day-long stage for its best players, teams and storylines.
Anyone who tuned in to watch the Suns and Spurs renew their playoff rivalry from last year -- in another game decided by a buzzer-beater -- or the Lakers and Celtics rekindle one of the most storied rivalries in sports, or the Wizards nearly upset the Cavaliers in a rematch of last year's heated playoff series, would be hard-pressed not to be excited about the NBA season.
Sure, the NFL doesn't need to remind casual sports fans on Thanksgiving that its season is underway, like the NBA might during Christmas, but can you imagine if the NFL scheduled games on the holiday with the same ambition and gusto? Can you imagine, for example, a slate of games that featured the Giants-Panthers, Steelers-Titans and Patriots-Colts instead of the trio of duds we were presented with this year on Turkey Day, all in the name of tradition?
Maybe it's the NFL's way of forcing its fans to spend more time with their families instead of watching must-see games. Thankfully for sports fans, the NBA used its national stage to usher in a new holiday tradition that might one day surpass football on Thanksgiving. If 2008 was any indication of things to come, basketball on Christmas is well on its way to becoming my favorite new pastime.