San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Bruce Jenkins has uncovered the true Jewish War on Christmas–David Stern saving us all from the hell of spending time with our families by making us watch NBA games.
One of the most distasteful aspects of commissioner David Stern’s legacy – ruining Christmas for far too many people – comes into play again this year with five televised games scheduled. “It used to be two teams,” retired coach Phil Jackson said. “But I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day. Your little kids are putting batteries in their new toys, all kinds of family stuff going on, and now you’re supposed to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon?”
Jackson is among many observers who point out the obvious: that Stern, who celebrates Hanukkah, has no real feel for Christmas in the first place. “Here’s an idea,” scoffed former Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, always one of Stern’s most vocal critics. “Let’s play 10 games. Start at midnight on Christmas Eve and play them all through the next day, so there’s not a minute of Christmas when there’s not an NBA game on TV. Because it’s just so great. Christmas is the NBA, to me. It’s what it’s all about.”
Criticisms of David Stern, though certainly not all illegitimate, are often tinged with anti-semitism: the idea that he’s a schemer (the lottery is rigged every year, right?), that he’s greedy (other comissioners don’t fine their personnel for infractions?) or that he’s especially mendacious (because most league commissioners are consistently forthright?)—all of these play into old, negative tropes about Jews, and shouldn’t be the basis for reasoned critiques.
This particular criticism of Stern is not so much “tinged” with anti-semitism as it is basted in anti-semitism, and it breaks down under examination: Thanksgiving may not be a religious holiday, but it’s just as important a gathering for many people, and I’ve never seen anyone claim that the NFL ruined Thanksgiving “for far too many people,” except maybe Lions fans. And let’s not forget the years when Hanukkah, invoked here to mean “David Stern is Jewish,” has actually overlapped with Christmas. Such as last year.
My hatred of David Stern is hard to overestimate. I fully believe he personally intervenes in the league to ensure that the big market teams like the Lakers get calls at the right time to advance in the playoffs (see the 2000 Western Conference Finals that broke my heart against the Blazers) and trades that no one thought were possible to pull off (Gasol, Howard, etc). The league is fixed. Stern has basically destroyed my love for professional basketball, which was my sport bar none until I was about 25.
So there’s plenty to ways to say David Stern sucks without resorting to anti-Semitism.
Plus what the hell else I am supposed to do on Christmas after opening gifts? Now it’s time for 18 hours of chit-chat with the in-laws! Thanks Christians for eliminating unnecessary distractions to this great day!!!!