Christmas is a special time of year, where everyone gathers together and enjoys each others company. Of course, every Christmas day here on NBA Basketball we see matches of their own being played on the big stages and the big markets.
It’s no surprise the New York Knicks have one of, if not the best markets in the NBA. Each game at the Garden presents the NBA with a lot of cash, so it’s no surprise they like to schedule Knicks games under prime holidays. In fact, the New York Knicks have played the most Christmas day games, with 52 games played so far.
It makes sense for smaller-market teams to not appear so much on holidays. The Charlotte Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies have yet to appear in an NBA Christmas match up, but with the rise of the young players in their roster, we might see a match up in the near future. We saw this with the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose young core played the last two Christmas games due to the rise of their young core.
At the end of the day, people forget that there are families behind every single player that participates in Christmas, but the league doesn’t. In recent years, they’ve released statements saying they don’t schedule games on Christmas Eve so that players can spend time with their family.
Before we talk about some of the greatest Christmas day matches, let’s talk about Kobe Bryant, the guy that’s played more times on Christmas day alone than on any other day of the year. Each Christmas we’ve seen him put his heart and soul into crazy outstanding performances. Perhaps one of the craziest performances we’ve seen out of him on a Christmas was his rookie Christmas season, which was not that impressive. He had 1 foul, and no points scored, making this one of his worst performances of all time.
Every die hard NBA fan knows about Bernard King‘s Christmas day campaign, scoring 60 points while going 19 for 30 from the field. What’s crazy about this performance is that he didn’t attempt a single three point shot throughout the entire game.
Bernard King started the game by scoring 11 of the Knicks first 15 points, lighting up Madison Square Gardens against their rivals from New Jersey. Throughout the game he got to the free throw line 26 time, showing his true dominance throughout the game. He did end up losing the game for the Knicks, 120-114.
Nate Archibald, during the 1972-1973 season, Nate “Tiny” Archibald became the first NBA player to lead the league in scoring and assists with 34 points per game to go with 11.4 assists during that season. Archibald continued his assist leading season by dishing 18 assists to his teammates against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Bucks.
Tiny also finished with 20 points on 7 for 16 from the field. Kareem ended up leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the lead against the Kansas City Omaha-Kings 104-99.
Before we go back further in the history books let’s take a peek at the highly anticipated rematch of the previous finals at the time; Cleveland against Golden State.
Kevin Durant, the new star free agent to join Golden State at the time kept the game competitive, posting a game high 36 points and an impressive 15 boards. However, it was LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers that gave the Cavs a fighting chance in this match up.
During the fourth quarter, we saw Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers post 14 of his 25 points of the night in the fourth quarter, along with the game winner against a crossed up Klay Thompson.
This shows the competition and fierce attitude that LeBron plays with in order to win for the city of Cleveland. For Durant, it ignited a fire in his game; losing his first Christmas for the dubs.
Michael Jordan is known to destroy the hearts of Knicks fans every time they meet up. The 1992 Christmas saw His Airness post 42 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals against a hapless Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks, 89-77.
Perhaps we should also briefly mention Jordan’s first ever Christmas day game in 1986 (rookie season). This was a game also against the Knicks, where former ROTY Patrick Ewing saw a tip in at the end of the game to seal the victory for the Knicks. Don’t worry Bulls fans, Jordan exacts his revenge over and over again against Ewing. Do we have to remind you about the turnaround poster?
In his first Christmas, MJ put in 30 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocks. This was legendary and helped solidify his rookie campaign.
Lastly, let’s check in on another Knicks beating. This time, the performance was done by the Philadelphia Warriors, with Wilt Chamberlain running the ship.
Although this statline looks like a “Wilt-esque stat sheet, and we shouldn’t be impressed”, it’s important to notice that Wilt Chamberlain was a God amongst ants, and he didn’t need to lift a finger to provide us with some Christmas action.
This particular statline consisted of 59 points and 36 rebounds – just 1 point shy of tying Bernard King’s future record (60), but managing to secure the rebounds on Christmas day record. Let’s not forget that Wilt averaged 50 and 25 on the season, but that shouldn’t take away from the effort that Wilt put in.
Now that you’ve recapped some of the greatest Christmas basketball performances, you should definitely be in the spirit to give an assist to someone in need these holidays, whether it be a friend/family or a stranger! This season is all about giving, after all.
How will you spend your Christmas? Will you be tuning into one of the five games the NBA has to offer? Let us know!