Leading Off: On Christmas Day, it must be the NBA

Even though the NBA has been playing regular-season games since Halloween, many fans don’t bother to pay much attention until Christmas Day.

That’s when the league tries to lure back fans who have paid more attention to the NFL and college football seasons by showcasing its best teams and players in five nationally televised games.

Basketball on Christmas has become as much a tradition as football on Thanksgiving.

Only this year, the five-game schedule on ABC-owned stations is mostly a turkey.

Derrick Rose of the Bulls and Lakers star Kobe Bryant will miss their games due to injuries. And several of these so-called showcase teams are anything but this season.

The Brooklyn Nets have been a huge disappointment, with so many key veterans now looking more old than experienced.

The New York Knicks, after winning 54 games last season, will be lucky to win 30 this season.

And the schedule makers would never have penciled in the Lakers to play Miami had they known Bryant would be out.

For fans who believe Christmas is the real start of the NBA season, consider this: The top eight teams in the Eastern Conference on Christmas Day 2012 reached the eight-team playoff bracket, and seven of the top eight Western Conference teams qualified.

Is Christmas the start of the season or the beginning of playoff positioning?

– Victor Contreras

What to watch

College football, Hawaii Bowl, 5 p.m., ESPN : With coach Chris Petersen gone to Washington, the Broncos will be led by assistant Bob Gregory today.

Today’s poll

Will you watch NBA games on Christmas ?

• Yes, once the gifts are opened, there’s not much to do.

• No, it’s a day to spend with family and watch Christmas movies.

Vote above, or go to

Weekend poll results

Should the Raiders re-sign running back Darren McFadden?

• Yes: 17%

• No: 83%

Total votes: 180