Every year on Christmas Day the NBA features nationally televised games with what typically consists of some of the most anticipated matchups across the league. The Memphis Grizzlies have never been included in this lineup, even when they were perennial playoff contenders but with their young, talented and exciting core, the NBA’s years are numbered for excluding the Bears of Beale St.
NBA on Christmas Day is a major marketing event for the league. Millions of eyes are anticipated to be in front of televisions across the country and the league does its part to put the most entertaining product on the court. Of course, their are instances like this year when the Golden St. Warriors injury-depleted roster versus the Houston Rockets losses all of its luster as well as the Pelicans, who have been without rookie Zion Williamson all season taking on the Denver Nuggets, but for the most part the games feature top-level talent.
The Grizzlies have never had a team that had a large national draw or exciting household names on their roster. Even at the height of the ‘Grit and Grind’ era with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen when the Grizzlies were amongst the most winning regular season teams in the NBA during their seven-year playoff run, the Grizzlies never had the notoriety to play on Christmas Day.
The NBA seems to choose their games based on several key factors - matchup/rivalry, star power, market size, and projected success. Based on the Memphis Grizzlies upward progression I see them playing Christmas Day games very soon.
With teams like the Kings, Mavs, Pelicans, and Hawks all having young talented rosters that are roughly on the same age and success timeline as the Grizzlies and two of them also being in the Grizzlies division it would be no surprise to see them matched up against these teams.
Ja Morant has skyrocketed as far as star power is concerned and fellow young Grizzlies Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke provide an exciting and fast-paced brand of basketball that many fans are starting to adopt as a league favorite to watch outside of the usual suspects.
Memphis has a relatively small television market size but they also tend to always have a high television rating for out of market cities during the NBA finals. Memphis loves NBA stars and if the stars also happen to be playing for the local team, you can expect the viewership to be even better.
As mentioned earlier if the Grizzlies young stars continue to progress, the team will only continue to be better overall. When the league makes its Christmas schedule for the years to come, I fully expect them to see the Grizzlies as a team that the nation would want to see. The Pelicans were bad the season before and immediately got a Christmas game off of the buzz of adding Zion Williamson and expectation to be an exciting team to watch.
Today as you open your gifts, sip hot chocolate and sing carols with your loved ones; make sure that you let them know that all of these traditions may have to be adjusted soon - because the Grizzlies will soon be playing on Christmas Day.