In terms of sports, Thanksgiving is for the NFL. Christmas is for the NBA. That’s just the order of the world. Believe it or not, 10 years ago today, Shaquille O’Neal returned to Los Angeles to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for the first time since the band broke up earlier that same summer and when the “ShaKobe beef” hit DefCon-12 levels.
The contest was the most anticipated regular season NBA in the post-Jordan era with the only legit comparison being LeBron’s return to Cleveland in December 2010. The NBA poured gasoline on an already lit fire, salivating over the fact the most anticipated reunion pop culture (at the time) was their doing. In fact, the moment was so crossover-worthy, Destiny’s Child found themselves involved in the pre-game build up.
Despite Kobe’s 42 points (45 would’ve given L.A. a win as he missed a game-winning three), Miami won behind then-rookie Dwyane Wade’s 29 points and 10 assists prompting Shaq (who fouled out) to exit Staples with one last shot, “No layups, no dunks. Basically everybody. Especially him.”
The drama in 2014 pales in comparison to Kobe and Shaq’s ’04 reunion, but needless to say the lineup boasts its fair share of worthwhile match-ups and storylines that’s sure to hold us over until we’re nice and toasty from eggnog and grandma’s banana pudding later tonight.
Let’s run through the slate.
Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks – 12:00 p.m. EST (ESPN)
The Knicks suck, but at least they have Carmelo. The Wizards are damn good and this will be America’s chance to see John Wall – the best point guard in the East – and Bradley Beal go to work.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs – 2:30 p.m. EST (ABC)
Injuries suck. Kevin Durant will miss his fourth straight game today with an ankle injury, but look on the bright side. At least Pop won’t sit his starters today (maybe) and these four words are worth clearing the schedule for: Russell. Westbrook. In. Primetime.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat – 5:30 p.m. EST (ABC)
How hilarious would it be to see LeBron accidentally spaz out on Mario Chalmers again?
Los Angeles Lakers @ Chicago Bulls – 8:00 p.m. EST (TNT)
If only Byron Scott would have had the foresight to sit Kobe a few games so he could have passed Jordan tonight. Twitter would have exploded in ways only awards show can incite.
Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 p.m. EST (TNT)
Curry vs. Paul. Kerr vs. Rivers. Griffin vs. Everybody. No Donald Sterling in sight. The absolute perfect nightcap.