My Christmas Day Marathon: 13+ Hours of NBA


Christmas has never been a typical holiday for me. I was raised in a household that didn't celebrate the holiday and for various reasons I rarely get to spend it with my family, so I've created my own holiday tradition: marathons.

No, not running 26.2 miles, that'd just be stupid (no offense to marathon runners out there; I'm fat and I don't like the cold). These are the kind of marathons that take place on a TV screen.

The tradition started in 2004, when I spent all day watching all the extended editions of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy -- which was somehow exhausting despite not moving all day. The next year I did a Christmas "Star Wars"-athon, starting with "Phantom Menace" on Christmas Eve, then continuing in episode order through "Return of the Jedi" on Christmas Day. The marathon went on hiatus in 2006 and 2007, since I had to work, and was scaled back in 2008 and 2009 ("Matrix" trilogy one year, "Blade" trilogy the next) so I could fit in a viewing of the Cavs game.

This year I didn't want to risk any movie watching getting in the way of Heat-Lakers, nor did I really want to break up any kind of trilogy around the game, so I decided instead to make my Christmas marathon an NBA-athon. I started on ESPN at noon with Bulls-Knicks, with the teams in festive red and green uniforms for the season. That game ended just in time for me to flip over to ABC for Celtics-Magic, and while that ran slightly long, the network held the tip of Heat-Lakers, so we didn't miss a minute of action. Then at 8 it was back to ESPN for Nuggets-Thunder, before finishing the night with a dose of Blazers-Warriors.

I was tweeting throughout the day on my basketball-only account, and sent out 68 tweets over the course of 13 hours, or about an average of one every 11 1/2 minutes -- not an overwhelming rate, but a nice steady pace for the day. I was also in ESPN.com's Daily Dime Live chat, which took a surreal turn around hour 11 (somewhere along the way we got into a serious literary discussion about "Frankenstein", in between random photoshops of Al Harrington and Jameer Nelson) and was probably the most fun I've had on Christmas in years.

If you want to know about the basketball games themselves, you can read about those on any number of sites -- quickly, the Knicks, Magic, Heat, Thunder and Warriors all won, and the Heat are awesome -- but I wanted to share some random observations from my 13-hour marathon:

- "All I Want for Christmas is You" is not only my favorite holiday song, it's the only one I can listen to year-round. But after hearing it used in bumps and promos all day, I couldn't stand to not hear it again until next December.

- Speaking of that song, for obvious pregnancy reasons, ESPN/ABC had to use last year's footage of Mariah Carey in all of their promos. If you've seen Mariah lately, it was pretty obvious, but if you hadn't, it became obvious when one of the clips showed a background dancer wearing a navy blue Cavaliers #23 jersey. Whoops.

- I didn't realize that Christmas is now sponsored by the worst movies ever made. I can't even rank them from good to bad. So instead, I'll rank them from "Might consider watching on Netflix if I'm really, really bored" to "If you forced me to watch it at gunpoint, I might ask you to just shoot me instead."

  • "The Mechanic" - this Jason Statham movie doesn't look terrible (as far as Jason Statham movies go) but I didn't see anything that made me want to watch this rather than just pop in any one of the countless other movies where he plays some kind of professional killer
  • "The Green Hornet" - I had a free pass to see this on Monday, and I skipped the movie to watch Heat-Mavs instead. I'm kind of glad I did.
  • "The Dilemma" - I vaguely remember a time when Vince Vaughn was in watchable movies, but it seems SOOOOOO long ago
  • "Little Fockers" - If you look at Robert De Niro's career, I think it's best to imagine that he died shortly after finishing filming on "Ronin", and everything that's happened since has been some sort of evil doppelg√§nger, determined to ruin his legacy. 
  • "Just Go With It" - speaking of people who used to be in watchable movies, Jennifer Aniston, what the hell happened to your career?
  • "Gulliver's Travels" - has there ever been a movie that so misinterpreted its source material? 
  • "Yogi Bear" - the only reason this isn't lower is because it's already out and I've become desensitized to its putridity. The fact that it made $16M at the box office last weekend just speaks to the idiocy of this country.
  • "Big Mommas" - I've been watching old episodes of "The Critic" lately. For those unfamiliar with the show, it was an animated series from some of the creators of "The Simpsons" and aired on ABC and FOX in the mid-'90s. It featured a TV movie critic (voiced by Jon Lovitz) and most of the "movies" he reviewed were actually movie parodies, and most of them were horribly unnecessary sequels (some of which, like Rocky 6, have actually come to be). If you'd told me that "Big Mommas" was one of those parodies, I might not have believed you because it's just too stupid of an idea. Yet, there I was on Saturday, watching commercial after commercial for what should have been called "Martin Lawrence REALLY Needs Money"
At least I won't have to waste my money going to the movie theater until March or so.

- As I write this, it's snowing outside, and it's supposed to be one of the worst blizzards we've had in this area in years. For some reason, my local ABC station decided that for large stretches of the Celtics-Magic and Heat-Lakers games, warnings about this blizzard needed to be on the screen at all times. There must have been blizzard warnings up for two hours in a row. It's 2010. We don't need non-stop weather crawls on network TV when we've got 24-hour weather networks and access to every weather website on the planet.

- OK, one basketball note to wrap this up. LeBron James's teams have now won four consecutive Christmas Day games. The only time in his career LeBron lost on Christmas was 2003, his rookie season. One of these years, I'll actually get out and see him play in person on Christmas, but there was no way I was flying to LA for a one-day trip this year.

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