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It’s not a new notion for Miami, which beat the Lakers on Christmas in three successive years after Shaquille O’Neal left Los Angeles for the Heat from 2004 through 2006. Miami also lost to Chicago in 1997 and Cleveland in 2007, while beating the Knicks in 2009.

“If you play with a team that doesn’t matter, you never play on a holiday,” Spoelstra said. “When your team is viewed as a contending team, you normally play on the holidays and we view that as a good thing _ because we’ve seen it on both sides. Certainly the times we haven’t played on Christmas we’ve had good family time, but it also meant we probably didn’t have a great team.”

Jackson and James don’t always have their opinions in concert.

Jackson, the 11-time NBA champion, said this summer after Miami signed James and Chris Bosh to play alongside Dwyane Wade that the “players obviously wanted to collude together and do this” _ and use of the word “collude” raised some eyebrows in South Florida.

On this issue, though, the league’s two-time reigning MVP and most decorated championship coach are in perfect harmony.

“The fans, we always say it’s good for the fans,” James said. “But the fans get an opportunity to see us all year. We’ve got TV games all year. We’ve got a TV game on Thursday (in Phoenix). I don’t care for it too much.”

Nor does Jackson, when he spoke out against the league’s long-standing decision.

“It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean to them anything any more,” Jackson said. “Just go out and play and entertain the TV. It’s really weird, but it is what it is. We have to go to work and make the best of it.”

Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a father of two as well, and he’s been a teammate of James‘ for eight years _ so he’s well-versed in the Christmas scheduling issue.

Diplomatically as always, Ilgauskas echoed James‘ thoughts.

“I understand it’s a business and people want to see marquee matchups on Christmas Day,” Ilgauskas said. “Maybe give teams some time off. I think the Lakers play every year at Christmas. That’s not right. Give them a year or two. Let them enjoy Christmas.”

Miami guard Dwyane Wade has a new commercial getting unveiled nationally on Christmas, because millions of eyes will be watching the broadcast of Lakers-Heat.

But given the choice, he’d rather not play, either.

“Our families understand,” Wade said. “We’ll celebrate when we get back home.”

Spoelstra said the Heat, as in past years, will simply reschedule Christmas in some respects. The team plans to have Sunday off to spend with family.

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