The NBA Christmas Day games date back to 1947, and have given us fans some memorable games and performances which we won’t ever forget. This years slate of games has the potential to add on to the long list of Christmas Day memories on the hardwood. So it got me thinking, what are my top 5 NBA Christmas Day matchups and moments of all time? Let’s get into the list.
5. New Jersey Nets vs New York Knicks 1984
One of the leagues greatest scorers of all time, and New York Knicks all time great, Bernard King would have a game for the ages on Christmas Day in 1984. King dropped a jaw dropping 60 points on the Nets in the worlds most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. Maybe more impressive than the 60 points in the entire game was that Kind had a 40 piece by HALFTIME. Talk about an offensive explosion. But much like most of King’s career, and the present day Knicks, the Knicks lost, despite the 60 points outburst by King.
4. Lakers vs Cavs 2009 (Kobe and LeBron combine for 61 points and 17 assists)
Kobe Bryant, Lebron James on Christmas Day should’ve became a tradition. At the time the two best players in the world went at it fro the whole world to see, and they did not disappoint. Kobe led all scorers with 35 points, to go with 10 rebounds while sprinkling in 8 assist. But it wasn’t enough to overcome Lebron James and Mo Williams scoring outburst. LeBron concluded the game with 26 points, and 9 assists in the blowout victory over Kobe’s Lakers. But the individual duel between the two very bets the game had to offer was more than enough to land them on this list.
3. Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Lakers 2004 (Kobe v Shaq 1st time since the trade)
The hype surrounding this Christmas Day matchup remains unmatched. It was the first time that Kobe and Shaq would share the hardwood since their relationship imploded in Los Angeles. The pregame handshake between the two was much like the weather in December, cold. But things quickly warmed up on the court when Kobe caught the hot hand dropping an impressive 42 points. Ultimately it was Shaq’s Miami Heat who would get the last laugh as they defeated the lakers 104-102. The only thing keeping this from being higher on my list is there was no future ramifications to this game.
2. Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers 2008
This Christmas Day matchup was a rematch of the previous year’s classic 7 game NBA Finals where the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. This game however would have a different outcome as Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum would get the best of the Celtics big 3, winning 93-82. The game had a little extra meaning to the Lakers as Head coach Phil Jackson pick dup his 1000th career win. While it was a minor revenge for the Lakers, it’s always a good feeling to walk away with a win. The two would link up for another classic 7 game NBA Finals a year later, this time with the Lakers getting the upper hand.
1. Warriors vs Cavs 2016
The 2016 Christmas Day matchup and finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and defending champion Cleveland Cavs lived up to the hype. The game had everything you could ask for: Top two players in the world (KD, LeBron), All stars all over the court, history and a legit dislike for one another, highlight plays and it came down to the final buzzer. What else more could you ask for?
Some key points from this game. The Warriors blew a 14 point lead, Kyrie Irving who hit the dagger of the 2016 NBA Finals, hit yet another in this game with a beautiful move. The Cavs big 3 of LeBron, Kyrie and Love combined for 76 of the teams 109 points while the Warriors Big 4 combined for 91 of the Warriors 108 points. It all sums up to an unforgettable Christmas Day game.