In the least surprising report of all-time, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are expected to play at the Miami Heat on Christmas Day. The NBA has turned the Xmas holiday into a league showcase with a quintuple-header of nationally televised games. Clearly, James returning to face his former team months after leaving to rejoin his other former and new current team warrants such attention.
Soon we'll learn if the Wizards do as well.
Washington didn't appear on any such coast-to-coast broadcast regular season games last year after its one scheduled gig was recast. A spot on, Christmas Day, yeah, right.
But, now more and more folks are aware of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Now NBA nation recognizes the Wizards as an Eastern Conference threat after playoff series against the Bulls and Pacers.
Now the Wizards have Paul Pierce.
Washington last played on December 25 in 2008. Easily for the first time since then there is a legitimate chance for a comeback. The thing is how many spots are actually available. Let's look at the Xmas Day contenders. These first eight teams are locks:
Cleveland Cavaliers - LeBron James. Enough said.
New York Knicks - Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson and most of all, No. 1 TV market
Los Angeles Lakers - Kobe Bryant's comeback tour and the No. 2 TV market
Los Angeles Clippers - Lob City, Chris Paul's kid, No. 2 TV market and if the game is in LA camera shots of people not named Donald Sterling sitting courtside.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Russell Westbrook's crazy fashion choices.
San Antonio Spurs - Defending champs and the chance for coach Gregg Popovich to warm our hearts by offering holiday cheer to a lucky sideline reporter.
Chicago Bulls - The return of Derrick Rose and the No. 3 TV market
Miami Heat - LeBron James' former team
Now, the remaining non-Wizardy candidates:
Brooklyn Nets - Well, I guess the TV market unless someone believes America wants to rehash the Jason Kidd-to-Milwaukee story. Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and the corpse of Kevin Garnett aren't moving the needle.
Golden State Warriors - The Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Also, everybody loves Steve Kerr. Well, except for the Utah Jazz.
Houston Rockets - Dwight Howard, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Chandler Parsons, Chris Bosh, Jeremy Lin, Omar Asik...Oh, they let Parsons go to Dallas. And Bosh never signed on as expected. And they traded Lin and Asik in the hopes that shedding those contracts would help get Bosh. Well, they've still got a chance.
Indiana Pacers - Paul George, shots of Larry Bird looking miserable sitting in the stands and back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference finals counts for something.
Dallas Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki, star of ABC's "Shark Tank" Mark Cuban and the aforementioned Parsons.
Finally, let me try my hand at TV scheduling (all times ET):
12 p.m. - Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks. Kobe versus Carmelo, Derek Fisher and Phil plus the return of Linsanity to the Big Apple.
2:30 p.m. - Hold, please
5:00 p.m. - Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat. Again, obvious. The key here is to tell the Heat fans the game is at 4 p.m. so they arrive on time. Also let them know they get a chance to go Orlando Bloom on Justin Beiber.
8:00 p.m. - Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden versus his old mates Durant and Westbrook.
10:30 p.m. - San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers. Any game with LAC needs to be at the Staples Center.
2:30 p.m. - Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls. The Calipari Clash, i.e. Wall versus Rose. Playoff rematch. Nene's hands and the back of Jimmy Butler's head. Marcin Gortat versus Joakim Noah. Bradley Beal versus Chicago-style pizza. Pau Gasol. Paul Pierce.
So, will any of this happen? As Nene said this past season about pundits picking against the Wizards before the series with the Bulls, "The future, who knows the future, only God. The haters know the past. I know the present. The future only God knows." According to reports, God will reveal the schedule sometime in the next month.