Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson is arguably one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. He's also, apparently, one of league's most ardent defenders of Christmas.
In an interview with ESPNLosAngeles.com, Jackson had some sharp criticism for the NBA and its increasing practice of scheduling games on the sacred holiday.
"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."
Jackson's team will be playing in one of five games scheduled for Christmas day. That, he said, is just ridiculous.
"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 [Continental Basketball Association], 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."
While many of Jackson's concerns are philosophical, he also said the Christmas games pose a practical problem: preparation.
"I don't know if you can adequately even prepare for these games," Jackson said. "You don't have a walk-through on the day of the game. It's just a difficult game. ... Your little kids are putting batteries in toys to put their Christmas presents together, there's all kinds of crazy stuff going on and now your head's got to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Day? That game is just real hard to measure how to bring focus to it."
Jackson said he will be bringing his concerns to NBA Commissioner David Stern.
The Lakers play the Miami Heat at 2 p.m. ET on Christmas day.