It doesn’t matter if you’re a 7-year-old child or an NBA player: Christmas morning brings love, joy, hope, excitement, curiosity and yes, occasionally disappointment.
What will be waiting under the tree? Or in some cases, in the driveway?
The Knicks continue the NBA’s tradition of playing games on Christmas Day when they host the Boston Celtics on Sunday (coverage begins at 11:30 AM on MSG Network). With wins over the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic, the Knicks are looking to close out a 3-0 homestead.
Not a bad present.
But the Knicks have been in the Christmas spirit since the league was founded in 1946. They played in the NBA’s first Christmas Day game when they beat the Providence Steamrollers 89-75 in 1947, the year the games were instituted. The Knicks have played more Christmas Day games (50) than any NBA team.
“You can’t beat playing in The Garden on Christmas,’’ said Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. “That’s a dream come true for people.”
“I know I remember watching games in New York and that feeling. It’s a different feeling playing on Christmas.’’
The Knicks already have exchanged gifts, using the clandestine process of Secret Santa. This was a first for Mindaugas Kuzminskas of Lithuania, who was blown away by the Christmas present he received from Marshall Plumlee.
“When I got home [from our road trip], he had set up my house where I can control all the speakers with my voice, the lights with my voice, the TV with my voice,’’ gushed Kuzminskas. “So that was a big surprise because I had no clue he was going to do that.”
“I say, ‘Can you play Christmas song?’ Ok, it plays Christmas song. ‘Can you turn off the lights?’ Boom, the lights are off.’’
Plumlee clearly has a future as Kris Kringle.
With that Christmas spirit in mind, we asked as many Knicks as possible to recall their favorite, and least favorite, Christmas presents.
Best – “My wife bought me a car. A 2015 Corvette.”
Worst – Underwear. “We’re going to get that at this stage, with who we are. Underwear is probably going to be the No. 1 gift we get – every year.”
Best – “When I was 4 or 5 years old, I got one of those electric toy jeeps, the ones you can get in and drive.”
Worst – “My grandma makes fruitcake and it’s not the best fruitcake out there. You don’t want to be impolite so you tell her it’s good. But you take it home and it just sits there and rots. I’m not a big fruitcake guy.”
Best – “A basketball court for me and my brother Juancho. I was about 15 and had stopped playing soccer to concentrate on basketball.”
Worst – A lump of coal, literally, from his parents for not doing well in his studies. Hernangomez told MSGNetworks.com that he wasn’t aware that in America, it’s a popular euphemism to describe a disappointing gift as a lump of coal.
Best – “Having Jesus Christ in my life. The day he was born is my greatest gift.”
Worst – “Three years in a row, when I was a little kid, I got underwear.”
Best – “My first basketball court. I was about five. My mom got it for me.”
Worst – “When I was like 12, 13 I kept getting little cars and trucks.”
Best – “I remember when I was a kid I was very disappointed because I wanted Sega Mega Drive. And I asked them [my parents] to get me a basketball video game. And the first day of Christmas I didn’t get that. So I was real disappointed. I was crying, I thought maybe I was bad. But the next day I found it under the Christmas tree. They saw how disappointed I was.”
Worst – Hmmm.
Best – Bowling ball. “I do a lot of bowling in the offseason.’’
Worst – Clothing he gets from his brother. “I appreciate it. It’s the thought that matters but, those gifts are horrible.”
“I never put it on. I pull it out of the wrapping paper. I look at it. You could see they’re looking at me, looking at my reaction to see if I like it. You have to pretend that you like it to make everything go sweet.”
Best – Nintendo.
Worst – A grandma sweater. “When I tried it on I looked like a grandmother.”
Best – Super Nintendo. “It changed the course of my life,’’ Plumlee said with a laugh.
Worst – “Well, it wasn’t the worst, but one year I kept saying I wanted a Godzilla toy. I opened my first present and it wasn’t Godzilla. I started crying like a baby. My parents said, ‘Open the other one.’ I did and it was Godzilla.”
“So I didn’t have a worst present,’’ Plumlee added with a chuckle. “Just a traumatic one.’’
Best – “My first pair of real basketball sneakers – AND 1. I was about 11.”
Worst – “As a kid, you want material things. I got a picture frame with pictures. A kid doesn’t want a picture frame.”
Best – Sega Dreamcast. “I was 12-13. It was super dope. My mom hid it in my closet. I knew I got it. I deserved it. I didn’t see it. My mom said, ‘Go in your closet. It’s at the top,’ I said, ‘That box?’ It had been there for like a month.’’
Worst – “Worst present is probably when you get nothing from somebody you thought was going to get you something.”
Best – “My Pal 2 Robot”
Worst – “A book, when I was five.”
“But you went to Duke,’’ he was reminded.
“Not when I was five,’’ quipped Thomas.
Best – A pair of black high top Reebok ‘The Pump” basketball sneakers.
Worst – None. “It’s always the thought that counts.’’
Editor’s note: Maurice Ndour was with the Westchester Knicks when this story was being reported.