Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK – In his 17th season in the NBA, Nets reserve guard Jerry Stackhouse has seen and accomplished a lot. One thing he has not done, however, is play on Christmas Day, viewed as the league’s showcase day during the regular season. With the Nets squaring off against the Boston Celtics in a Christmas Day matinee, the 38-year-old was happy to cross a Christmas Day game off his list of accomplishments.
“That’s why I had to hang around for so long,” Stackhouse joked before the game. “Somebody mentioned it to me that I never played on Christmas Day. I’m a real holiday guy, so I didn’t really have much problems not playing on Christmas Day. I’ve enjoyed that day with my family, knowing that day, maybe, sometimes, I would still have to leave them, playing on the road or something the next day. It is what it is though, I’m glad we’ve got an early game, still get a chance to spend a little time with the family and then back to business tomorrow.”
The Christmas Day game for the Nets, their first since 2002 against the Celtics, marks a schedule that is full of quirks. Despite having to play on the holiday, the Nets will board a flight to Milwaukee on Christmas Night for a game at the Bucks on Wednesday evening. Upon returning from Milwaukee, the Nets will go back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively.
“Three o’clock, that’s our normal time to fly out,” Stackhouse said. “We pushed it back to like 8 so guys can go back and spend a little time with their families. It’s kind of strange, scheduled to play on Christmas Day. You would think we would have at least the next day off, but the scheduling guys weren’t good to us this time.”
Aside from Christmas, the Nets finished up a west coast trip at Golden State on Thanksgiving Eve, will play at the San Antonio Spurs on New Year’s Eve and will be forced to take a 12-day, seven-game road trip from March 18-April 3. That lengthy trip will take place in three different timezones and is necessary thanks to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming to Brooklyn from March 20-April 1.
“The schedule is gonna have to ease up for at some point, so hopefully it’s towards the end of the season,” Stackhouse said. “I havent really looked at it, but normally, you get a little break in there somewhere. Everyone is a little banged up so we need to recover.”
Tuesday’s game was part of a Christmas Day slate that has grown in the number of games, as well as the number of viewers. Celtics-Nets was seen in 215 countries was followed by Knicks-Lakers, Thunder-Heat, Rockets-Bulls and Nuggets-Clippers.
Regardless of how many games there are on Christmas, they always get solid ratings as the NBA makes sure to fill them with its brightest stars and teams. While someone like Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday morning that he has gone back and forth over the idea of so many games on a holiday, Stackhouse is in favor.
“That’s our brand, I think it’s a great thing,” Stackhouse said. “We’ve got all our top teams. The teams that probably generated a lot of excitement from last season are playing today and it’s definitely good for our game, good for our brand.”
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA