Monday, December 25, 2006

The NBA Christmas tradition continues

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Dec 25, 2006 3:00 AM (9 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 10,197 articles

BALTIMORE - While the NFL has Thanksgiving, Christmas Day belongs to the NBA.

This year, it will be the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers taking on the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade when ESPN on ABC 2 launches its NBA season on Christmas Day at 2 p.m.

The ESPN on ABC’s game broadcast will mark the debut of a new commentary team — returning play-by-play commentator Mike Breen, analyst Mark Jackson and reporter Michele Tafoya (who will also handle reporting duties during ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecast, New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, later that evening). Dan Patrick will return as the host of “NBA Countdown,” which will originate from the game site throughout the season, with analysts Jackson and Michael Wilbon.

I spoke to both Breen and Jackson about the NBA’s Christmas tradition, as well as the matchup between Kobe and D-Wade.

Jackson: “It’s certainly something that’s special. ... [Players] realize it is Christmas, people open up gifts, and families are around the television set watching. ... [Those] that are selected to play in the games are fully aware of the impact that it could have and how important it is and what type of stage they are on. I think the best thing about it is having two of the league’s brightest stars in Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade participating in this game. It’s going to be a special, special game, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Speaking as a former player, guys are fully aware and want to take part in this kind of environment.”

Breen: “I’m going to be curious with Kobe Bryant. He’s one of those guys that I think loves to play on a day like this when everybody is watching, and the Lakers have been one of the real surprises in terms of how well they’ve played. Now, they are on the road without one of their key guys, Lamar Odom, and he’s going to have to shoulder perhaps a little more of the load.”

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at


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