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Which NBA teams have played the most games on Christmas Day?

Traditional Christmas Day NBA is as much a feature as turkey and stuffing, so we take a look at the team who has entertained us the most

Traditional Christmas Day NBA is as much a feature as turkey and stuffing, so we take a look at the team who has entertained us the most

Christmas Day NBA games are a fixture in the sports calendar, many years seeing the NBA unopposed for viewership numbers. The NFL and college football give their players a rest before the Bowl madness or playoffs and if you want to watch something after stuffing yourself with turkey, ham, and other holiday fare, you settle in for a big time matchup.

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.

For 2022, nothing has been made official just yet, but the five games that are being touted by insiders as the most likely are:

  • Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
  • Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns
  • New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
  • Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Since the league’s inception in 1947, the NBA have 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 often the only game in town.

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. If predictions hold true, 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 to them anything any more.”

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.


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