Christmas team spirit: Fun facts for local athletes

Christmas team spirit: Fun facts for local athletes
Lagniappe Sports

POSTED: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 12:04pm

Nick Saban is either Saint Nick or the devil incarnate, depending on which colors you wear. But Christmas spirit abounds in the world of sports.

A handful of prominent athletes were born on December 25. Among them are New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon, former Saints lineman Chris Naeole, and baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson.

Santa Claus would likely be a fan of NFL tight ends Doug Jolley and Kyle Rudolph. Jolley played for three teams in five pro seasons, and helped Oakland reach the Super Bowl as a rookie. Rudolph has started every game for Minnesota in this, his second season in the NFL. But he might prefer Jay Cutler. The Chicago Bears’ starting quarterback was raised in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Temple University hosted Christmas for a few years. Dionte Christmas, that is. He played basketball for the Owls from 2005-09, and averaged close to 20 points per game in three years as a starter. Rakeem Christmas plays on this year’s Syracuse University team. Rakeem and Dionte are not related, but Syracuse did play against Temple on December 22, which was the final game for both schools before Christmas.

But if Santa were a hoops junkie, he would probably be seen at University of Kentucky games, cheering on Nerlens Noel. While his older brothers play college football, Noel (a 6’ 10” freshman forward) is considered one of the top prospects in college basketball, and a potential top pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

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