ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The holidays are not only a time of being with friends and family, they also bring about one of the marquee moments on the NBA calendar: Christmas Day, when the NBA is giving us five big match-ups to keep you glued to your couch all day long.
To celebrate the upcoming day, we’re talking with a few famous NBA fans about what the NBA and the Christmas Day games mean to them. Today we check in with one of the world’s great chefs, Mario Batali. Mario owns restaurants around the globe, has written nearly a dozen cookbooks (his latest is America — Farm to Table) and is a co-host of “The Chew.” All Ball readers already knew Mario was an NBA fan, so it’s worth taking a moment to exchange emails with him about the upcoming NBA Christmas Day slate…
ME: Last year you told us you root for both the Knicks and the Nets. How do you feel about the state of the two franchises right now?
MARIO: Not ideal, but I am still a supporter.
ME: You told us you take your sons on an NBA road trip each year. Where have you yet to see a game that you’d like to visit?
MARIO: This year for Leo, it will be the Pelicans, because we love New Orleans.
ME: All-Star Weekend in New York City is a few months away. Any don’t-miss stops you have for people visiting town?
MARIO: Eataly, Pearl Oyster Bar, Buvette, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Otto, Babbo, Lupa, Casa Mono.
ME: What Christmas gift would you give to the Knicks? To the Nets?
MARIO: Bourbon to drown their sadness and linguine with clams to build them back up again.
ME: What Christmas Day traditions do you and your family share?
MARIO: Presents, brunch, NBA hoops, winter beach walk, ham and biscuits.
ME: What’s your go-to snack/food to eat when watching NBA games on Christmas Day?
MARIO: Snacks will be salami and cheese from Eataly, smoked whitefish from Carlson’s in Leland, hard cider from Tandem in Suttons Bay, and Goat Cheese from Idyll Farms in Northport.
ME: Give us your predictions for the Christmas Day lineup. First up, Washington Wizards at New York Knicks?
MARIO: Knicks will give me a Christmas Day win, by 5.
ME: San Antonio Spurs at OKC Thunder?
MARIO: Spurs by 4.
ME: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat?
MARIO: Cavs will finally have it together and win by 2.
ME: Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls?
MARIO: Bulls by 5.
ME: And finally, Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors?
MARIO: [Stephen] Curry will dust them — Warriors by 12.