For the second Christmas in a row, NBA and NFL matches will take place simultaneously. And the duel does not help the basketball league, crushed in hearings a year ago.
Christmas is basketball. At least that’s been the case every year in the United States since 1947. But for the second time in a row, the NBA will be head-to-head with its American football counterpart, the NFL. The reason ? Chance of the calendar, suggests the NFL. We will come back to it. But no one is fooled: the commercial potential of December 25 is real, and the NFL refuses to deprive itself of it. Which does not help the business of the NBA, hearings in support.
A year ago, the NBA suffered a humiliation. His national poster (because many matches are only broadcast in the states concerned) between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets had brought together 8M Americans in front of their TV, according to Sports MediaWatch . At the same time, the NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the Cleveland Browns brought together 28.5 million people. A record for a sporting event at Christmas for more than 20 years across the Atlantic.
We have the complexity to make our way alongside the NFL.
Evan Wasch, Executive Vice President of NBA Basketball Strategy and Analytics
Figures to put into perspective: if the NBA is exported better than anyone, it does not have the aura of the NFL in the United States. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 37% of Americans name soccer their favorite sport, compared to 11% for basketball. When the two leagues meet, everyone loses. But the NBA loses more. “We have the complexity to make our way next to the NFL“, acknowledged Evan Wasch, executive vice president of basketball strategy and analysis within the NBA, for The Athletic last August.
Lakers pushed away from Los Angeles by Rams over Christmas
What bothers the NBA at Christmas is the fact “that NFL teams, this year, are playing where we also have very good teams“points Wasch. Example with the Los Angeles Rams (NFL) who play at home this December 25, which prompted the NBA to organize the Lakers game away this day, in Dallas. The big clumsy enters the playground, and the little schoolboy leaves to find a quiet corner.
“We want to think that the NBA and the NFL walk a little hand in hand, that they organize themselves in terms of the calendar“, tells us Rémi Reverchon, presenter at beIN Sports, broadcaster of the NBA and the NFL in France. “This was the case on Thanksgiving“, notes the journalist. A national holiday almost as sacred as Christmas in the United States, which has always seen the NFL since 1945. The NBA has never played on Thanksgiving Day: it’s a foregone conclusion.
Again in 2023
This year, “we realize that the relationship between the two leagues is not that friendly“says Rémi Reverchon. Because, for the first time, there will be 3 American football matches at Christmas (against one or two before). Proof that the NFL pushes the limits.
Is the war therefore set to last? Not necessarily: the NFL only plays at Christmas if December 25 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, in accordance with its usual calendar. That’s why she’s only played 4 times at Christmas in the last 10 years. This will be the case in 2022, and logically also in 2023. The NBA has been warned: on American soil, the NFL is no longer afraid to walk on its toes.
The NFL program this December 25:
Miami Dolphins-Green Bay Packers (7 p.m.)
Los Angeles Rams-Denver Broncos (10:30 p.m.)
Arizona Cardinals – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2h30)
The NBA program this December 25:
New York Knicks-Philadelphia Sixers (6 p.m.)
Dallas Mavericks – Los Angeles Lakers (8:30 p.m.)
Boston Celtics-Milwaukee Bucks (11 p.m.)
Golden State Warriors – Memphis Grizzlies (2h)
Denver Nuggets-Phoenix Suns (4:30)