ESPN and ABC will present an NBA Christmas Day tripleheader, Thurs., Dec. 25, highlighted by a rematch of the 2008 Finals when the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant host the defending champion Boston Celtics and Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, at 5 p.m. ET on ABC. Mike Breen will call the game with analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Lisa Salters. The Celtics/Lakers showdown – also available on ESPN Radio – will cap off a doubleheader on ABC, with San Antonio and Tim Duncan visiting the Phoenix Suns and Amare Stoudemire at 2:30 p.m. Mike Tirico will provide commentary with analyst Hubie Brown and reporter Heather Cox.
Christmas Day marks the tip-off of the NBA season on ABC, which will resume with an exclusive NBA Sunday “Game of the Week” lineup beginning January 25. Overall, ABC will broadcast 18 NBA Sunday games including six Sunday doubleheaders.
Prior to the ABC Christmas Day doubleheader, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson will make his network debut on the GMC NBA Countdown pregame show at 2 p.m. Johnson will be joined by host Stuart Scott and analysts Jon Barry and Michael Wilbon. ABC studio coverage highlights:
· Magic going one-on-one in a halftime interview with Lakers star Kobe Bryant;
· A special halftime feature showcasing Boston’s Kevin Garnett enduring a grueling off-season beach workout;
· Phoenix’s Shaquille O’Neal providing a holiday-themed open to the ABC broadcasts at 2 p.m.;
· Magic receiving a special introduction from his former coach, Hall of Famer Pat Riley;
· Several NBA players reflecting on their favorite Christmas gifts of all time.
The Christmas Day tripleheader will tip off with the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard hosting the New Orleans Hornets and Chris Paul at 12 p.m. on ESPN. Play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman will team with analyst Doris Burke and reporter Nancy Lieberman. The Magic/Hornets game will also be available via ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV. All ESPN and ABC NBA coverage is available in high definition.
ESPN and ABC Christmas Day NBA schedule:
|12 p.m.||New Orleans at Orlando||ESPN, ESPN HD,|
|Dan Shulman, Doris Burke, Nancy Lieberman|
|2 p.m.||GMC NBA Countdown||ABC, ABC HD|
|Stuart Scott, Magic Johnson, Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon|
|2:30 p.m.||San Antonio at Phoenix||ABC, ABC HD|
|Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, Heather Cox|
|5 p.m.||Boston at L.A. Lakers||ABC, ABC HD|
|Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Lisa Salters|
|4:35 p.m.||Kevin Calabro, Dr. Jack Ramsay||ESPN Radio|
Special Christmas Day NBA Version of Streak for the Cash
On Christmas Day, ESPN.com will feature a special NBA version of its popular Streak for the Cash pick’em game. Fans will be able to make as many as 15 picks – all related to the five Christmas Day NBA games – with the longest streak of correct picks for the day eligible for a $10,000 prize, along with a trip to NBA All-Star 2009 in Phoenix. If someone makes all 15 picks correctly, they will be eligible for a grand prize of $100,000* and a trip to NBA All-Star 2009. In addition to ESPN.com, fans can also make their selections via mobile devices. For fans already playing Streak for the Cash, the Christmas Day picks will count toward their overall Streak and win totals as well.
Last week, Miami resident and Brooklyn native Samuel Louis-Charles won the $1 million overall Streak for the Cash grand prize. Already, more than 1.2 million fans are playing Streak for the Cash, registering more than 21 million total picks since the game’s August 25 launch.
* In the event of a tie, tie-breakers will be used to determine the winner. See official rules for details.
Straight No Chaser
ESPN.com will issue a special Christmas Day edition of Daily Dime previewing the NBA games, along with TrueHoop blogging throughout the day. Additionally, beginning Sunday, Dec. 14, ESPN.com will run a series of 12 stories under the heading “Playing It Forward: ESPN.com’s NBA Holiday Package,” focusing on some of the many NBA players and teams giving back to their communities this holiday season (e.g. Dwight Howard visiting Florida Children’s Hospital, lifting the spirits of young patients).
ESPN Classic: Christmas Eve Marathon
ESPN Classic will present a marathon of memorable NBA games – Wednesday, Dec. 24, beginning at 12 p.m. – featuring the teams competing on ABC Christmas Day:
· Phoenix vs. San Antonio, 2003 Western Conference First Round, Game 1 (12-2 p.m.) – Stephon Marbury hits a three-pointer at the end of overtime to give the Suns the victory;
· Boston at L.A. Lakers, 1984 NBA Finals, Game 4 (2-4 p.m.) – Larry Bird and Kevin McHale lead the Celtics to an overtime win;
· Boston at L.A. Lakers, 1985 NBA Finals, Game 4 (4-6 p.m.) – Dennis Johnson sinks a jumper to even the series at 2-2 as the Celtics defeat the Lakers;
· L.A. Lakers at Boston, 1987 NBA Finals, Game 4 (6-8 p.m.) – Magic Johnson hits the winning shot, as the Lakers defeat Larry Bird’s Celtics 107-106.
ESPN NBA Viewership Up 16 Percent
ESPN’s NBA telecasts are averaging 1,652,000 viewers (P2+) this season, up 16 percent compared to 1,429,000 viewers at the same time last season. The corresponding 1.3 rating is up eight percent over last year’s 1.2 rating.
NBA Continues on ESPN Dec. 26
ESPN will televise a bonus gift to NBA fans when the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose visit the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade Friday, Dec. 26, at 5 p.m. Dan Shulman will call the game with analyst Doris Burke and reporter Nancy Lieberman. Kia NBA Shootaround, with host Mark Jones and analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Walton, will preview the game at 4:30 p.m.