David Stern(Reuters)

Today in bizarre innuendos, Bruce Jenkins at the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that the reason the National Basketball Association schedules games on Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with its popular tradition or the fact that the games yield the league a high viewership of about six million viewers (translating into gobs of money for the league, its players, and owners).

Nope, according to Jenkins, NBA Christmas games exist because David Stern hates Christmas. What?

One of the most distasteful aspects of commissioner David Stern’s legacy – ruining Christmas for far too many people – comes into play again this year with five televised games scheduled.

Jenkins quotes retired coach Phil Jackson, who complains about the games, but makes no mention of Stern’s faith. Jenkins then drops this brilliant nugget.

Jackson is among many observers who point out the obvious: that Stern, who celebrates Hanukkah, has no real feel for Christmas in the first place.

Is Jenkins suggesting that David Stern is playing point guard in the war against Christmas because he’s Jewish? Over at Deadspin, Isaac Rauch explains:

Criticisms of David Stern, though certainly not all illegitimate, are often tinged with anti-semitism: the idea that he’s a schemer (the lottery is rigged every year, right?), that he’s greedy (other commissioners don’t fine their personnel for infractions?) or that he’s especially mendacious (because most league commissioners are consistently forthright?)—all of these play into old, negative tropes about Jews, and shouldn’t be the basis for reasoned critiques.

This particular criticism of Stern is not so much “tinged” with anti-semitism as it is basted in anti-semitism, and it breaks down under examination: Thanksgiving may not be a religious holiday, but it’s just as important a gathering for many people, and I’ve never seen anyone claim that the NFL ruined Thanksgiving “for far too many people,” except maybe Lions fans. And let’s not forget the years when Hanukkah, invoked here to mean “David Stern is Jewish,” has actually overlapped with Christmas. Such as last year.

If you’re going to use a trope here, the better one is really that Stern is good at business.

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