Between the NFL on Thanksgiving and the NBA on Christmas, sports are one of the holiday's TV staples. The San Antonio Spurs are 5-6 on Christmas but haven’t played since 2016, mostly due to the absence of a marquee star in the Silver and Black.
This year's six holiday games are Philadelphia vs. the Knicks, the Lakers vs. Dallas, the Bucks vs. Celtics, the Grizzlies vs. Warriors, and the Suns vs. Nuggets. Even the two teams that are outside of the layoff hunt in Los Angeles and Golden State, have top-level stars in LeBron James and Steph Curry.
Usually, I’d be bitter about the lowly Lakers and Warriors getting yet another nationally televised game, but ‘tis the season, and I’m starting my New Year’s Resolution of complaining less a little early.
The Spurs haven’t had a Christmas game since 2016, which makes sense for a small market team winding down from a 20-year dynasty. That begs the question: when will the Spurs play next on Christmas?
Adding a superstar rookie helps the Spurs play a holiday game
None of the teams slated to play this year are up-and-coming. The Grizzlies and Celtics are young, but they’ve established themselves despite their youth. The Mavericks are less established, but Luka Doncic is perhaps the best player in the league right now and is very important when it comes to growing the game globally, so I can’t fault the NBA for opting to play him on their biggest day.
Anthony Edwards, Cade Cunningham, and Paolo Banchero are all notably absent from the lineup of games, so even if the Spurs land Wembanyama in the draft lottery, Christmas of 2023 is a no-go for San Antonio. The earliest fans can expect San Antonio to play on Christmas would be 2024, and that’s only if an exciting rookie like Wembanyama or Henderson leads the Spurs on a playoff run in the 2023-24 season.
Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jeremy Sochan are all capable of playing exciting basketball. Still, until the Spurs are solidly in contention, I just don’t see Adam Silver and company placing them in a Christmas game. The Lakers and Knicks benefit from the glitz and glamour of LA and NYC, and San Antonio doesn’t have that national allure. Unless the Spurs are a title favorite, they get to spend the holiday with their family. The earliest we will see them? 2025, and that’s if we’re lucky.