Holiday Hoops: NBA Players Chime in on Christmas Day, On and Off the Court

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Every family has a holiday tradition. Whether it’s having a Christmas scavenger hunt, opening gifts at midnight or enjoying a meal together, the holidays are a special time. It’s the time of year when A Christmas Story is on multiple channels, Mariah Carey’s music is on repeat and you can walk around in shorts and a T-shirt (OK, that’s just this year in New York City).

And let’s not forget about family bonding around the television. That’s because Christmas and NBA basketball have always been synonymous with one another. The games have always had extra meaning or importance. Between the special Christmas Day uniforms and the first network-aired games of the season on ABC—including the Cavaliers-Warriors Finals rematch at 5 p.m. ET—it’s like Dec. 25 is the highly-anticipated tip-off of the season.

The NBPA asked four players playing on Christmas Day 10 questions to give us a peek inside their life on and off the court during the holiday season. Here are their responses.

 

1) What does it mean to you to play on Christmas?

Jordan Clarkson, Lakers: I’ve always watched NBA games on Christmas and thought it would be cool to play on Christmas Day.

James Jones, Cavaliers: It’s a surreal experience playing on Christmas. I still have vivid memories of my younger self sitting in front of the TV on Christmas morning to watch NBA basketball. Now my son, James, gets to watch me play.

E’Twaun Moore, Bulls: It is really meaningful to me to have the opportunity to play on Christmas, because I know during the holidays families are together and are sharing time enjoying our games.

Cameron Payne, Thunder: It really means a lot considering I’m a rookie. It’s really something that I always looked forward to do.

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Jordan Clarkson. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Clarkson’s Twitter account)

2) Most memorable Christmas Day game you played in or watched?

Clarkson: My first Christmas game as a Laker vs. the Chicago Bulls [last year]. I was embarrassed when I missed a layup.

Jones: They all are special. No particular game stands out above the rest.

Moore: My first game in the NBA was on Christmas, Boston vs. New York [in 2011], so that was the most memorable.

Payne: I have never played in a Christmas Day game. That’s why this one means a lot to me because it is a first-time experience.

3) Favorite holiday movie?

Clarkson: The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jones: Home Alone.

Moore: Home Alone because it bring me back to being a mischievous kid.

Payne: Home Alone.

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James Jones. (Photo courtesy of James Jones’ Twitter account)

4) Favorite or most inspiring holiday present as a kid, and why?

Clarkson: Michael Jordan jersey. Why? Because I was named after MJ.

Jones: Sega Genesis game console. It was my first game console ever. I’m a big-time gamer.

Moore: A basketball because it was my first love.

Payne: My most favorite holiday gift ever would have to be my first Fisher-Price basketball goal.

5) What do you want for the holidays this year?

Clarkson: I hope to stay healthy and get as many wins as we can.

Jones: iPad Pro.

Moore: I want some Beats headphones because I just broke mine.

Payne: The only thing I want this year is to get a chance to spend time with all of my family, because with this busy schedule it makes it very hard to see my family.

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E’Twaun Moore. (Photo courtesy of E’Twaun Moore’s Twitter account)

6) Most memorable holiday in the past with your family?

Clarkson: Last Christmas when my Uncle Nate came down to L.A. and cooked our holiday meal to include chitterlings.

Jones: It was the first Christmas that I shared with my wife, Destiny, and three kids, Jadynn, James Dylan and Jodie.

Moore: 2013 Christmas because it was the first one I spent with my daughter.

Payne: My most memorable holiday would have to be last year when I found out that I would be an uncle to my beautiful niece.

7) What are your holiday traditions with your family?

Clarkson: At midnight we open one gift each. 

Jones: Christmas scavenger hunts and hot chocolate parties are my holiday traditions.

Moore: Most of the time we have a big dinner and play Spades together.

Payne: On Christmas morning we always have breakfast at my grandparents’ house and open our gifts together as a family.

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Cameron Payne. (Photo courtesy of Cameron Payne’s Twitter account)

8) What do you cook or enjoy eating during the holidays?

Clarkson: I don’t cook, but I enjoy baking cookies and eating chitterlings.

Jones: My favorite holiday foods are cornbread and macaroni and cheese.

Moore: My parents do all the cooking and good soul food is what I enjoy.

Payne: Usually on Christmas I like to eat fried chicken and my mom’s homemade spaghetti.

9) Describe a standout holiday event you took part in with kids and the community.

Clarkson: Thanksgiving when I served meals to the homeless and less fortunate.

Jones: I participated in a holiday toy giveaway in Miami for elementary school kids. The students were rewarded for tutoring and mentoring their fellow classmates, which I thought was extremely cool.

Moore: I had a toy drive this year for about 300 kids in my neighborhood I grew up in. The smiles on their faces were priceless.

Payne: Growing up, my church always gave out gifts to the less fortunate on Christmas Day. Every year I always helped with that, which really means a lot to me.

10) What are your New Year’s plans?

Clarkson: Chill, eat and get ready for our game [vs. the Sixers].

Jones: New Year’s will be spent at home with my wife and kids.

Moore: I will be with my family at the house and having a family party.

Payne: I don’t know yet. I’m just focused on winning against the Bulls on Christmas Day.

 

Wesley Kaminsky, who’s studying public relations at Temple University, is the NBPA’s Social Media Intern. You can follow him on Twitter.

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