BESIDES THE FOOD, family and gifts, the holidays also make for a perfect time to sit around and watch sports -

all day long


This year is no different as the NBA will roll out the red carpet on Christmas with games starting at noon on ESPN (New Orleans-Orlando), followed by two games on ABC and two on TNT, the last ending well past midnight when Dallas meets Portland beginning at 10:30. Also, Bowl Week continues as Notre Dame will face Hawaii in a bowl of the same Polynesian name tonight at 8.

This year there are even more sports moments to savor, but let us refresh your memory on some occasions perhaps forgotten.

* Christmas Eve, 1969: Curt Flood, an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, was up in arms after he was traded to the Phillies. Flood fired off a letter to commissioner Bowie Kuhn demanding his contract be voided, and challenging baseball's reserve clause. Flood wrote: "I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes."

One wonders if Flood would have felt that way if he had been traded to the Yankees?

* Christmas Day, 1984: Bernard King, the Knicks' star attraction, dropped 60 points in a game against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden. The mark is still a Knicks' record. However, New York still lost, 120-114, solidfying the case that basketball is a team sport.

* Christmas Eve, 1950: In a performance to savor, the Cleveland Browns' Otto Graham threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns as he piloted the Browns' 30-28 last-second victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL Championship Game. Graham did it in 28 mph wind gusts, subfreezing temperatures and while wearing a pair of Chuck Taylor's - or PF Flyers, we aren't really sure.

* Christmas Day, 1995: Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith broke the goalline plane for his 25th touchdown of the season, breaking a 12-year-old record set by Washington's John Riggins. We know it's Dallas, but you gotta give props when they are due - especially during the holidays.

- Kerith Gabriel

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