To most, the holidays is about spending time with your loved ones, opening gifts and enjoying the year’s most festive day.
For Miami Heat’s Luol Deng, he will be spending his Christmas man-marking arguably the world’s best basketball player, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Heat [13-15] host the Cavaliers [16-10] on Thursday night with James facing his old side for the first time since moving back to Cleveland in the off-season.
For Deng, he too will be facing his old team for the first time this season, as he was signed by Miami in the off-season from Cleveland. It was predicted that the Great Britain star would return to Chicago, where he spent the first 10 years of his professional career before moving to the Cavaliers.
Deng though admits that it took a while for him to get adjusted to the Christmas Day schedule but he wouldn’t change it for anything these days.
“At first it was a strange feeling playing on [Christmas] day but now I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “I really like how the NBA has made it a real family festive day where people come out to arenas all over the U.S. to support the league. It’s something I really enjoy being a part of.”
Miami have not enjoyed the best of starts in their post-LeBron James era. Injuries to Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts have stalled the Heat, but they looked good in their recent 100-84 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday, a game that Deng top scored with 23 points.
Christmas Day is a marquee day in the NBA calendar, highlighted by several key match-ups, usually reserved for the festive period. This year will see the Christmas Day games televised in 215 countries in 47 languages with more than 730 million fans globally following the NBA on social media. The year’s games will be the 67th year there have been NBA games on Christmas Day.
And for Deng, his routine won’t change, it will stay the same.
“I will get ready for the game as I usually would from my pre-game meal to being at the arena early,” Deng said. “All of my family will be in to watch the game which has become a yearly thing now. We will then head home after the game and eat food and have a real family catch up. Me and my brothers will also watch some of the other later NBA games.”