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Since 1947, NBA basketball on Christmas Day has been an annual tradition. Basketball allows its fans to be within inches of the court and one of the biggest Lakers fans, actor Jack Nicholson, has played some of his best supporting roles during Lakers games as the granddaddy of court side celebrity.  Just as Nicholson gets to use an alternative stage, so does Los Angeles Lakers star, LeBron James.

For this Christmas season, James delivered us another opportunity to reflect on the unresolved social issues that continue to engulf the USA.  On the latest episode of his HBO show, The Shop, James said: “In the NFL, they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality.”  James is committed to speaking more openly on social issues which culminated in the recent release of his political documentary with Carter Maverick, Shut Up and Dribble.

LeBron James is the ultimate athlete and one to be admired, he appears on the news for the right reasons. The breadth of his support and knowledge of underprivileged communities permits him the platform for a commanding and rational educational voice in our world.

James noted that the NBA held a respectful view of the opinions of their athletes in contrast to the experience in the NFL of former Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was allegedly blackballed by NFL owners for his silent protest of taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Reminiscent of Muhammed Ali rejecting the draft during the Vietnam War and the many Olympic athlete boycotts, social activism by sports people sends a powerful and engaging message.

James matches the intensity of his social convictions with his game day performances.  The match up between the LeBron James-led Lakers and the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day will be James’s first Christmas Day game as a member of the Lakers and his 13th time playing on Christmas Day. The schedule of 12 hours of basketball across four games does provide a perfect excuse to silence relatives and let the Christmas food excess settle.

Watch the game live on Foxtel ESPN channel 508, 12:00-2:30pm on December 26 Sydney time.