Phil Jackson: "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day"

The celebrated basketball coach — and son of a minister — has some strong ideas about playing professional sports on a Christian holy day.

He chatted about it recently on ESPN with Hannah Storm (who, incidentally, is a former colleague from CBS, and a Notre Dame grad):

It’s an annual holiday tradition: put the star on the tree and put the Los Angeles Lakers on TV.

And Lakers head coach Phil Jackson is tired of it.

“It used to be two teams,” Jackson said. “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.”

There are actually five games scheduled by the league this year — the Chicago Bulls at the New York Knicks; the Boston Celtics at the Orlando Magic; the Denver Nuggets at the Oklahoma City Thunder; the Portland Trail Blazers at the Golden State Warriors; and the Miami Heat at the Lakers.

“I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day,” Jackson said. “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.”

To get an idea of just how often Jackson and the Lakers play on the winter holiday, consider it will be the 13th Christmas Day game for 15-year veteran Kobe Bryant. He has played more games on Dec. 25 during his career than any other calendar date.

Jackson coached a handful more times on Christmas back when he was manning the sidelines for the Bulls.

“It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to them anymore,” said Jackson, the son of a minister. “We just go out and play and entertain the TV. It’s really weird.”

Check out more, and a video of the interview, at the link.


  1. Jackson is still a Buddhist, right?


  1. Phil Jackson: “I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day” | The Deacon's Bench

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