LOS ANGELES -- Ah, Christmas. A time for holiday cheer.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson finds playing on Christmas Day as appealing as unwrapping a hideous sweater. The Lakers on Saturday will play host to Miami, the 12th straight season they have played on Christmas, 11 with Jackson as coach.
"It used to be Phoenix and L.A. and New York and Boston and New York or Philly or somebody on the East Coast,'' Jackson, speaking before Tuesday's game against Milwaukee at the Staples Center, said of the once much more reduced NBA schedule on Christmas. "Now, I see they have like six games (actually, five) on Christmas. It's like Christian holidays don't mean anything to (the NBA) anymore. You just go out and play and entertain (on) TV. It's really weird.''
Jackson is one of at least two coaches not enthralled with this season's Christmas schedule. Denver's coach George Karl recently expressed displeasure that his Nuggets are playing on the road for a second straight Christmas.
"I'd prefer to do it in Denver,'' said Karl, whose team plays at Oklahoma City on Christmas night after being at Portland last Christmas. "So next year, if they assign us another Christmas, if they play it in Denver, that'd be much more fun.''
Jackson, though, would prefer the NBA doesn't schedule his team a Christmas game anywhere.
"I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day,'' Jackson said. "Soccer teams don't play this time of year... I agree (with the NHL also not playing). I don't understand it. ... You just have to keep reminding (the NBA) that this is a special day.''
Asked if he'll remind NBA commissioner David Stern of that, Jackson quipped, "He'll see (what Jackson said).''
Continuing on a roll, Jackson was asked what the giveaway should be Saturday at the Staples Center. Fans littered the floor with foam plastic fingers last year.
"I hope it's a finger,'' Jackson said.
In addition to games in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City, other Christmas matchups feature Chicago at New York, Boston at Orlando and Portland at Golden State. All five will be nationally televised.
"I'm not a big fan of playing on Christmas,'' said Nuggets guard J.R. Smith. "I would rather be home with my family. But duty calls. That's the nature of the game.''
Denver forward Carmelo Anthony plans to bring his family to Oklahoma City. He realizes playing on Christmas has become a necessary evil since the Nuggets became a more attractive team to watch after advancing to the 2009 Western Conference finals.
"I always ask for a Christmas game, and now we get them every year, man,'' Anthony said.
But wait a minute, there is somebody who enjoys Christmas games.
"It think it's a fun opportunity,'' said forward Matt Barnes, who will play in his first such game for the Lakers after having been in previous Christmas games with Phoenix and Orlando.
Still, Barnes does offer one caution.
"You have the big matchups, but they are really blown out of proportion as far as the coverage in the media because it's so early in the season,'' Barnes said.
It doesn't sound as if that bothers the NBA. It's the third year in a row the league has scheduled a record five nationally televised games on Christmas.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson
Los Angeles fans expressed their frustration in last season's Christmas Day game between the Lakers and Cavs. Check out the video below: