Nets Find Family Time Amid NBA Schedule
With the Nets playing on Christmas Day for the first time since 2002, when they also hosted the Celtics (in East Rutherford, N.J.), the team's players have had to adjust within a holiday schedule that even without a gameday proves hectic:
"It’s one of those things," Kris Humphries says. "When you’re an NBA player, you’ve got to adapt wheter it’s playing on Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s – depending on how important New Year’s is to you, ha – it’s one of those things where you kind of adapt. And everyone’s family is pretty understanding, so it’s all right."
That has proven key for the many Nets playing on Christmas Day for the first time, and they're working with their families to figure out a fitting celebration.
"It’s tough," Deron Williams admits. "This is my first time playing on Christmas, so I don’t know how we’re going to do it. We’re gonna have to wake up like 6:30 on Christmas Day. They’re definitely up that early anyway. I know I was. That’s the only time of the year I was up bright and early, ha."
The hardest part? The same one most everyone deals with:
"I’m still trying to figure out how can I squeeze in time to go Christmas shopping," Gerald Wallace says. "What I think makes it a lot easier for us is your family understands. They understand that we don’t have the obvious free time to go out and do a lot of the Christmas holiday things that most families do. As long as they understand, that makes us feel a little bit better.
"At the same time," Wallace continues, "We feel kind of guilty not being able to go out and do some of the things they want to do. So it’s kind of rough, but for me the best thing is we’re home for Christmas morning. You want to be at home when your kids wake up on Christmas Day and open their gifts."
The Nets' two European players, 27-year-old Mirza Teletovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and 20-year-old Toko Shengelia (Georgia) are each experiencing the American holiday season for the first time.
Says Teletovic: "I’m Muslim. So for me, it’s not Christmas. But still people celebrate. I try to get my friends over and everybody comes in. I have a lot of people: cousins and family who are living in New Jersey, actually – Hackensack. They’ll come over for sure, have a dinner together, enjoy the holiday."
And Shengelia: "In Europe they left one week, or 10-day break where everyone would go back to their home country. Here, we don’t really have a break, so my parents and sister are trying to come here. I didn’t really think it through yet, but we should be doing something."
The family trips aren't limited to international flights, as Brook Lopez expects his mother to make the cross-country trek from their hometown of Fresno, California:
"Obviously you have to work around it," Lopez explains, "But my mom tries to hit both: wherever (twin brother and Hornets center) Robin is, wherever I am. Actually, she sent (older brother) Chris and I all our presents in a big box a few days ago. I haven’t opened it yet – I’m being a big boy and leaving it there under the tree until she gets here."
Seventeen-year veteran Jerry Stackhouse says he'll have family in town, and plans to share a postgame meal: "I think it’ll be a great atmosphere, a great Christmas. I’m looking forward to it."