Christmas time is about family, and it is about the NBA.
Okay, Christmas may not be about the NBA, exactly, but the league has planted a flag on the holiday with five games on the schedule. No NFL, college football, NHL or any other major sports attempt to compete with the NBA, so Christmas is the NBA's holiday just as Thanksgiving belongs to the NFL.
With that in mind, no Christmas Day matchup fits better than the Los Angeles Lakers at the Chicago Bulls. Winning two titles in Los Angeles, Pau Gasol is part of the Lakers' family. Kobe Bryant has often referred to the Spaniard as his "brother," and Bryant even penned a foreward to Gasol's book titled "If I Could Choose My Brother."
Never mind that the Lakers have slim to no chance of qualifying for the postseason or that Bryant sat out a game due to a coach's decision on Tuesday for the first time since he was a rookie. After being rested against the Golden State Warriors, Bryant's fatigue should not be a factor, and the records for both teams don't mean much on Thursday evening.
However, one should not wholly ignore that the Lakers are 9-19 on the season, while the Bulls are 19-9. Chicago is in the top four in the East, while the Lakers are in the bottom four in the West. Both teams average 103 points per game, but the Bulls only allow 99 points per game. The Lakers allow a league-worst 109 points per game.
Anyway, Christmas Day is about family reunions, and the Bulls playing the Lakers makes only too much sense.
Why the NBA decided to hold the game in Chicago over Los Angeles is a tunnel we need not go down. This matchup will have a family feel to it. Nick Young, one of the Lakers on the team with Gasol a season ago, told reporters that Bryant had been talking about playing against Gasol on Christmas since training camp.
On the season, the Lakers at the Bulls may only be one of 82 games. For Bryant and Gasol, though, Christmas Day means more. It's about family.
The Lakers and Bulls will tip-off at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.