Lakers-Heat, Celtics-Magic Dominate TV Ratings on Christmas Day

Phil Jackson is sick of having basketball games get in the way of Christmas, but he shouldn’t look forward to any reprieves from the NBA until he retires. The ratings from Saturday’s blockbuster double-header on ABC are in, and let’s just say the NBA on December 25th has become a tradition like the NFL on Thanksgiving.

The Celtics-Magic and Lakers-Heat — the two games on ABC — saw a ratings increase of 45% compared to last year. Even the other three games on ESPN were up 20% from a year ago. The 6.4 rating for the Lakers and Heat was almost 50% higher than last year’s Lakers-Cavs game, proving the Miami Heat is one of the most intriguing teams in sports. In fact, only the 2004 Heat-Lakers Shaq revenge game on Christmas was rated higher during the regular season the past seven years.

Many people groused when LeBron, Bosh, and Wade all joined forces in Miami, forming a super team. I immediately said it was good for the NBA, and approved with a smug grin from Stern, because it would spark more fan interest. That has truly been the case, and these ratings only augment that point. Business is booming for the NBA, and you can thank the Miami Heat superteam for being the biggest reason why. It also doesn’t hurt that Kobe and LeBron seem to be legitimate rivals too.

Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

LeBron and Kobe Talk a Little Trash on Christmas Day (Video)

There are very few times in my life where I’ve rooted for Kobe Bryant, but Christmas Day 2010 was one of them.  Like the rest of the people in the sporting world who aren’t Miami Heat fans, I’ve grown to despise LeBron James.  My Christmas wish fell short when the Heat dominated the Lakers, but it was fun to watch Kobe and LeBron jaw at each other in the fourth quarter.  As we showed you on Saturday, both players were debuting new Nikes, so wouldn’t Nike just want everyone to get along?  Oh well.  Check out the Kobe and LeBron trash talk video, courtesy of The Big Lead:

When asked about it after the game, Kobe told reporters he “just asked (LeBron) what he got for Christmas.”  It’s way too early to tell, but if these two superstars develop a hatred for one another over the course of the season and then meet in the NBA Finals, we could be in for a fun ride.

DeMarcus Cousins to D-League Reno Bighorns Could Be Possibility for Kings

It’s been an absolute disaster in Sacramento this season. The Kings are 5-22 and have the worst record in the league. Between last year’s Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans, and first-round pick DeMarcus Cousins, there was optimism entering the season. But Tyreke has been bothered by foot and personal problems and Cousins has been bothered by his Stephon Marbury alter ego.

We were high on DeMarcus Cousins coming out of the draft, brushing aside his character issues. They appear to be quite real, and he has become a problem. Cousins has fought with the coaching staff, been kicked out of practice, and then he was benched for making a choke sign during Tuesday’s loss to Golden State. On top of all that, Sam Amick says Cousins was sent to the bench for a long period Thursday for not reciprocating a high-five.

At this point the Kings are disciplining him for nearly everything, while Cousins is just inventing ways to get into trouble. With the team’s struggles and Cousins’ issues, the Kings could consider sending Cousins to the D-League to straighten him out. Scott Howard Cooper suggested the possibility which seems like a logical option. The move could weaken the team in the short term, but it could be best for Cousins in the long run.

Kobe and LeBron Debut New Nike Shoes on Christmas Day

Not only is Christmas Day bringing the first matchup of the season between the Heat and Lakers, it’s also delivering a clash of special shoes. Kevin Durant is wearing special shoes for his game against the Nuggets, and of course the two biggest superstars in the league — Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — each have their new Nikes. Kobe’s Christmas shoes are the grinch-colored ones on the left while LeBron’s are the Heat-colored kicks on the right:

The shoes will be available on December 26th — LeBron’s shoes will cost $160 while Kobe’s retail for $130. If you’re lucky enough, you might just receive a pair as a late Christmas present. Here are a few more pics in case you want to see all the details, including the lion on the tongue of LeBron’s, representing his nickname of “The King.”

That lime green color doesn’t do it for me, but then again I’m not the type to spend $130 on some wingtips. I suppose for the crowd dishing out those ducats, the more outrageous the better.

Pics of the shoes courtesy of Dime Magazine.

Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins Told Fans to ‘Shut the **** Up’

Oh boy, like the Grizzlies didn’t already have bad enough publicity, now they have to deal with their coach going all Bruce Boudreau on some fans. According to Chris Vernon via CBS Sports, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins told a group of 17-year-old kids to “shut the **** up” after they made noise questioning his decision to leave center Hasheem Thabeet in the game instead of replacing him with Zach Randolph.

It’s inappropriate for fans to use that sort of language, unacceptable by players, and unheard of for a coach to go off on fans like that. They’re supposed to be the level-headed leaders of a team, masters of public relations. Instead, you have Hollins cussing out some kids. I’m sure they were being jerks but he has to know better than that.

Making matters worse, apparently the fans are hardcore Grizzlies supporters who have six season tickets to Memphis games. Wrong people to mess with, Lionel. As much as everyone would love to unload on people heckling them, sometimes you just can’t. And I’ll also take the opportunity to reiterate a point I’ve made before: just because you’ve bought a ticket doesn’t give you the right to act like a jackass at a game. Normal manners and good behavior is still expected (though I know that’s asking a lot) for some people.

You Buying Hedo Turkoglu’s Excuse for Missed Dunk?

That Hedo Turkoglu hung on the rim moment brought to you by Sprite came on Tuesday night against the Mavericks. Hedo’s embarrassing play made its way around the intertubes Wednesday as expected. Naturally, reporters had no choice but to ask Hedo about the play, and of course he made excuses.

Turkoglu said Wednesday “I was fouled,” while motioning to his hip. Yeah, yeah, he was touched on his hip, but there’s no denying that he took off way too early for that dunk. After that play, his “Michael Jordan of Turkey” nickname may have to be rescinded. Luckily Andray Blatche happened Wednesday to take the pressure off Hedo because there’s really no excuse for that.

Kevin Love Could Join Exclusive 20-15 Club

Only eight players in NBA history have averaged at least 20 points and 15 rebounds per game in a season and all of them are in the Hall of Fame: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Bob Pettit (8), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4), Elgin Baylor (4), Walt Bellamy (4), Elvin Hayes (4), Moses Malone (2) and Bob McAdoo (1). If he can keep up his current pace, Kevin Love will be next on that list. Love is currently averaging 20.8 points per game and 15.5 rebounds per game — the highest average since Dennis Rodman’s 16.05 per game in 1996-97.

Love was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008, but was immediately traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for fellow 2008 draft pick O.J. Mayo. The Timberwolves definitely got the better end of this deal; Mayo’s first three years have produced a healthy 17.2 points per game, but that’s really it. He’s probably never going to be as famous for his play as he is for his one-year stint at USC.

Love, on the other hand, has seen his production rise incrementally each season — from 11 points and nine rebounds to 14 points and 11 rebounds to the historic pace he’s on this year. He’s got as many single-digit rebound games this season (5) as he does games with at least 20 boards. In what was probably his best game this season, on Nov. 12 against the Knicks, Love put up 31 points and brought down 31 rebounds — talk about glass cleaning.

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