A History Of The NBA On Christmas

The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics played on Christmas Day in 2011. They meet again this Dec. 25 | © Flickr/Kowarski
The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics played on Christmas Day in 2011. They meet again this Dec. 25 | © Flickr/Kowarski
Photo of Alex Serbetzian
17 May 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if your Christmas list includes NBA games. December 25 is symbolized by compassion and giving. Through the years, many games have been immortalized with generous moments of athleticism and stat lines. The spirit of the day, coupled with marquee matchups, have a knack of birthing results for the history books and this year shall be no different.

There’ll be Kevin Durant’s floor boasting, Carmelo Anthony will be toasting, and caroling for the Los Angeles Lakers. There’ll be coast-to-coast stories, tales of Dwyane Wade’s glories and a Finals rematch from not long ago. Let’s study the NBA of Christmases past.

The league we know today began in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America. The first Christmas Day game was played one year later, with the New York Knicks defeating the Providence Streamrollers. The decades since that fateful night have seen the NBA on Christmas grow into a tradition full of bright stars under the bright lights.

So, what would a Christmas article be without a list? Here are 12 knowledge stuffers about Christmas basketball you may not know:

National TV Debut

The first nationally broadcasted game was aired by ABC in 1967 between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Diego Rockets.

A Christmas Tradition

The Knicks have played in 50 Christmas Day games, the most of any NBA team. New York has a 22-28 record on Dec. 25.

Not Invited

The Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves have never played on Christmas. The Timberwolves will be checked off that list this year, though, when they play the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The King of Christmas

Bernard King owns the record for most points scored on Christmas. He scored 60 points for the Knicks in a loss to the New Jersey Nets in 1984.

A Day of Giving

Since Christmas is ultimately about giving, this list would be incomplete without mentioning an assist record. Nate “Tiny” Archibald’s led the league in points and assists in 1972. That Christmas he dished out a record 18 assists; a mark that still stands today.

More Presents

Russell Westbrook, Oscar Robertson, John Havlicek, Bill Cunningham and LeBron James are the only players to record triple-doubles on Christmas.

The Naughty List

The Thunder/Seattle Sonics franchise has one of the worst records on Christmas Day. The Thunder enter this year’s game with a 4-13 record on Dec. 25. The Denver Nuggets might as well as be the Denver Coals because they have a Grinch-like record of 1-4 on Christmas.

The Nice List

The Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers have the best records on Christmas at 10-2 and 14-3, respectively.

HO-HO-HOme Court Advantage

Home teams are 142-75 on Christmas Day.

A Late Start

In 2011, the Christmas games were actually the opening day for the NBA because of the lockout that delayed the season. The NBA has scheduled at least one Christmas Day game every season since 1947 with the exception of 1998 when there was another lockout.

‘Stilt’ > Santa

Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain had a festive night in 1961 when he had 59 points and a Christmas Day-record 36 rebounds.

The More the Merrier

This season is the ninth year in a row there is at least five games televised on Christmas Day.

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