Planning the perfect NBA Festivus celebration

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 15: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 15: Giannis Antetokounmpo /

Among the many Seinfeld contributions that we have integrated into our culture, one of the most notable and pervasive may very well be the secular holiday of Festivus. Originally conceived as an alternative to the commercialist and religious aspects of other December celebrations by author and editor Daniel O’Keefe and celebrated as early as 1966, always on December 23, the holiday made its way into a 1997 episode of the seminal sitcom, “The Strike,” as the product of Frank Costanza.

Despite its aversion to mainstream cultural norms, Festivus has several traditions of its own, including The Festivus Pole, The Airing of Grievances, The Feats of Strength and Festivus miracles. This year, the NBA unofficially celebrates Festivus with a packed slate of fourteen games. Now, we envision what it might look like if the league were to incorporate its traditions into the holiday season by inviting every player in the league to the traditional Festivus dinner.

Festivus Pole

Instead of a tall, leafy tree adorned with lavish ornaments, Frank Costanza chose to use an aluminum pole as the centerpiece of Festivus decorations. As he says, “I find tinsel distracting,” adding that aluminum’s strength-to-weight ratio draws him to the pole.  No team is more strictly functional without flash than the San Antonio Spurs, so Kawhi Leonard, as their talisman, would make a fine anti-decorative focal point.

Airing of Grievances

“I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!”Frank Costanza

Phil Jackson: Stop with the triangle. Stop antagonizing the most prominent player on your own team, as well as his good maritime friend, the best player in the world. Stop impressing your antiquated notions of basketball and basketball culture onto a league that has changed and moved on since you coached two consecutive generations of arguably the best players on the planet en route to eleven rings.


Rajon Rondo: To so many players in the league, you are the ideal point guard, with a pass-first mentality that won you the respect of your Hall of Fame teammates in Boston, along with a championship ring. But then, it got to be too much. You started treating assists like brownies, and you were the world’s worst sugar-addicet. 11.1, 11.2, 11.7 assists per game – but the high was never enough. Now, you’re regarded as a head case with an attitude problem who can’t shoot and blames his teammates when he whips the ball into the stands.

Draymond Green: For a while, you were the people’s champion, the bombastic member of an otherwise monastic bunch of flamethrowers. This year, however, you shifted the paradigm, turning the Warriors from lovable heroes into cruel villains. Kick unto people as you would have them kick unto you, Dray, lest your antics cost your team another championship.

Feats of Strength

Because the Feats of Strength call for the head of the household to challenge one member of the household to a wrestling match, and assuming Adam Silver is the head of the NBA’s household, it stands to reason that Silver may pick NBPA President Chris Paul. Despite having reached a tentative agreement on a new CBA, thus avoiding a dreaded lockout, there were still some wrinkles toward the end of negotiations that may have left a scar or two. Plus, Silver’s listed at 6-foot-3 and Chris Paul might be even shorter than his listed height of 6-foot, so Silver may stand a slightly more challenging tree to fell than one might think. Festivus doesn’t end until the head gets taken down; expect Paul to fight dirty.

If we throw out the head of the household out, however, we know what we want: Durant and Westbrook, head to head, in a quasi-Festivus version of the Peruvian tradition Takanakuy, in which people fight to settle conflicts. This is free money if the NBA can concoct a way to get this on Pay-Per-View, with a portion of profits sure to go to Nick Young’s Human Fund.

Festivus Miracles from 2016

Paul George returning from a gruesome leg injury to average over 23 points, four assists and seven rebounds in 81 games, earning an All-Star nomination, last season.

Portland losing four starters from a playoff team only to turn around and not only make the playoffs, but beat the Clippers in a series before giving Golden State some trouble last season.

Fans of Oklahoma City won’t agree, but letting James Harden go to Houston has turned out to be a miracle in disguise. James Harden is an MVP front runner as the point guard in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

The existence of “Giannis Antetokuonmpo, point guard” is a miracle unto itself.

What do LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Domatas Sabonis, Kevin Love, Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis have in common? They are all members of an exclusive club of big men, 6-foot-10 or taller, who are shooting 38 percent or better from behind the 3-point line on twenty or more attempts this season.

Speaking of Embiid, his validation of #TheProcess is its own supernatural event, even as the Sixers continue to slog along in the East.

David Fizdale turning Memphis from Grit ‘N’ Grind to a fast-paced, modern offensive juggernaut, with Marc Gasol stepping up in Mike Conley’s absence, has been an absolute joy.

Of course, this would be incomplete without the one shadow standing above all: Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first unanimous MVP in league history after breaking the record for most wins in the regular season, with 73. It’s a Festivus miracle!