Kings vow to grinch on Hawks in Xmas Day clash

Sydney Kings chairman Paul Smith has lit the fuse ahead of the Christmas clash with Illawarra, saying the reigning NBL champions will "spank" the Hawks and "send them home sad".

But Sydney's streak of five-figure home crowd numbers is set to come to an end on Christmas Day, with only the lower section of Qudos Bank Arena to be opened for fans.

Drawing inspiration from the NBA, the Kings conceived of and hosted last year's inaugural Christmas Day game against Melbourne United, believed to be a first of its kind for Australian professional sport.

The NBL has developed the concept into a double-header for 2023, with the Tasmania JackJumpers to face South East Melbourne in Hobart before the Kings meet the Hawks.

The Hawks' Christmas debut is poised to be the most competitive match between the two intra-state rivals since Brian Goorjian left Illawarra at the end of the 2021/22 season.

Illawarra are on an eight-game losing streak against the Kings but more recently, have won three of four games under new interim coach Justin Tatum.

Smith, co-owner of the Kings, has ruled out the possibility of sharing Christmas dinner with the resurgent Hawks on December 25.

"We tolerate the Hawks, they're the noisy neighbours," he said.

"We don't give them a lot of love, they don't need it. They don't like love, they love hate, that's what works best. 

"There's only one thing to watch (on Christmas) and that's the NBL, Sydney Kings versus Illawarra Hawks as we spank them around and send them home sad. That's what we'll be doing."

The Kings drew 7000 fans to the first Christmas Day game, with 300,000 more watching from home, and later pointed to the fixture as the reason for an upswing in home attendances.

"I think what happened that night is a lot of families sat down to watch a game of basketball for the first time for a long time," Smith said.

"Ticket sales just exploded."

Three of the five most-attended regular season games last season were Kings home fixtures played in January.

As it stands, the Kings have drawn crowds of more than 10,000 to each of their last nine home games at Qudos Bank Arena, equalling the club's record set in 1992.

But the Kings will open only the lower seating bowl at Qudos Bank Arena on Christmas Day, cutting the stadium's capacity to 9,500.

The Kings had been told staffing the stadium to capacity on Christmas Day would be cost prohibitive, and would likely be overkill anyway, given between 8000 and 9000 fans are expected to attend.

"We'll have to put a little asterisk on that one," Smith said.

Dual championship-winning Kings player Angus Glover looked forward to facing former side the Hawks on Christmas Day, having played in last season's 101-80 win on Christmas.

"Obviously last year was a huge success and just seeing what it's going to be this year, is going to be awesome," he said.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store