The Sydney Kings experimental foray into a Christmas Day game has been hailed as a success, with plans to repeat the fixture in the future.
Christmas Day sport has long been part and parcel of the US calendar, with both NFL and NBA games taking place on the 25th of December in 2022.
But for the Sydney Kings and Melbourne United, it was a brave new world – and it couldn’t have gone better.
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“It was one of the proudest days of my career,” Kings owner Paul Smith said on SEN.
“To break open that territory, and the risk that we took – and that everyone took; the broadcasters, the NBL – that moment when the doors open and you see people coming in … once again the magic of sport, the magic of events, it all comes together.”
Smith praised the positive atmosphere as the 7,012 fans inside Qudos Bank Arena got into the Christmas spirit.
“7000 is not our biggest crowd by any stretch of the imagination … it was just really wonderful to come together.
“My normal Christmas Day I’d probably see about six people all day. So to spend a bit of time with 7,000 people made it really special and a really great thing, and a comforting thing, I think.”
Kings guard Dejan Vasiljevic praised the fans for their patronage.
“Thank you for coming out, we made history!” He wrote on Twitter.
The owner said hosting this event wasn’t about making money on the day, but rather the long-term vision of the team and the league.
“It puts the NBL, and puts the Kings up on a platform. It gives us a profile we don’t normally have, and puts us in the conversation. From a marketing perspective, it’s an investment.”
“I’d do it twice again, three times again – no doubt at all. It’s been really successful.”
Fans have shown an appetite for sport on Christmas before, and Smith believes either the A-League or Big Bash could follow the NBL’s lead.
“I’m sure other sports have looked at it, and I’m sure we won’t be the only sport on Christmas Day, if not next year, than in the near future.”
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