The NBA’s decision to kick off the long-delayed season on Christmas Day with the Knicks taking on the Celtics at Madison Square Garden was a stroke of marketing genius. Don’t let anyone tell you this rivalry is just a spin-off of the Yankees–Red Sox hate relationship: New York and Boston have been duking it out since the original 1946 NBA was formed. Last April marked the first time in 21 years they met in the playoffs, and Knicks fans will be looking for some big-time revenge. And this season, they have the guns to do it, with Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Rajon Rondo giving the fans a lot to look forward to. By the way, if you can’t leave the festivities at home, TNT lucked out and has the game with one of my favorite round-ball commentators, Charles “Knucklehead” Barkley, joined by Shaquille O’Neal in his TNT debut. Should be fun.

Sun., Dec. 25, noon, 2011