Which NBA teams have never played on Christmas Day? Which ones have played most?
NBA games on Christmas are as traditional as presents under the tree, so we take a look at who has entertained us most and one team who never has on Xmas.
Christmas Day NBA games are a fixture in the sports calendar, many years seeing the basketball league unopposed for viewership numbers. The NFL and college football typically give their players a rest before the Bowl madness or playoffs, though this year sees more Christmas NFL games than ever before. Even still, the NBA rules Christmas Day.
The reason for that is that, unlike the NFL and Thanksgiving Day football, there are no teams who always play on Christmas. Instead, the matchups are set by the NBA to try and guarantee the best quality game that is available. Very often, this means that the previous final is scheduled as a Christmas Day rematch.
NBA Christmas Day schedule 2022-23
Since the league’s inception in 1947, the NBA has scheduled a Christmas Day game. With the MLB in the off-season, NHL’s collective bargaining agreement prohibiting games on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day, and the NFL and college football reluctant to cut into family time for the players, the NBA is the dominant game in town.
Which NBA team has played the most on Christmas and which team has never played?
The New York Knicks have played more Christmas Day games than any other team, with 54 total and a 23–31 record. The Los Angeles Lakers follow them up with 48 yuletide games and the Boston Celtics have decked the halls 35 times. The Philadelphia 76ers, with 32 appearances, and the Golden State Warriors at 31 round out the top five.
On the other end of the spectrum, 2022 will see the list of teams to have never played on Christmas Day reduced by one. The Memphis Grizzlies will play their first ever Christmas Day match, leaving the Charlotte Hornets as the only NBA team to have never had a holiday game.
Playing on Christmas Day is not without criticism though, with Lakers coach Phil Jackson, the son of two Christian ministers and author of a book on spiritual growth, saying, “I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day. I don’t understand it. It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to them anymore.”
But as the saying goes, where there is muck, there is brass. As long as the NBA gets strong viewing figures on Christmas Day, and let’s face it, they definitely are, then holiday basketball will be on the calendar.