Best All-Time NBA Christmas Performances

By Dennis Berry

Christmas is a time to gather with family and loved ones. We exchange gifts, have a big meal, and rest.

While all that is going on there will be plenty of NBA basketball to watch on television. There are five matchups that start at noon eastern with the Boston Celtics verses the Brooklyn Nets. That is followed by the New York Knicks at the Los Angeles Lakers. The game of the day will be a Finals rematch with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Miami Heat. Then the Houston Rockets verses the Chicago Bulls and the day ends with the Denver Nuggets verses the Los Angeles Clippers.

There will plenty of great players with the chance to have great performances on a national stage. Will anybody be able to top any of the best past performances on Christmas day? To help confirm stats, we used to help.

10. Charles Barkley

Instead of a rematch from the 1993 NBA Finals featuring Chicago and Phoenix, the NBA put the teams in games against conference rivals. The Phoenix Suns and the 1993 MVP Charles Barkley were pitted against the Houston Rockets. Even though Barkley was struggling with a bad back, he still had a great game. He scored 38 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in 47 minutes of play time. He led the Suns to a 111-91 win over the eventual NBA Champions that season.

9. Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen was known as one of the best all around players in the history of the game. On Christmas Day 1994 he had an outstanding game against the New York Knicks. Pippen scored 36 points and had 16 rebounds. He also added five steals, three assists, and two blocks in a 107-104 Chicago win in overtime.

8. Dwyane Wade

The 2006 NBA Champions Miami Heat hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day in 2006. This game was built around two of the best players in the League in Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. The Heat’s superstar is the only one that showed up. Wade scored 40 points, dished out 11 assists, had four rebounds, four steals, and four blocked shots in a 101-85 Miami win.

7. LeBron James

In 2010 the NBA had a prime matchup for Christmas Day. The two-time defending NBA Champions, the LA Lakers hosted the re-tooled Miami Heat with their Big 3 of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James. The game itself turned into a blowout. The Heat would win 96-80 behind a triple-double from LeBron James. He would have 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.

6. Tracy McGrady

On Christmas Day in 2002 the Detroit Pistons were at 18-8 trying to keep pace with the Indiana Pacers in the Central Division and the Orlando Magic were 15-14 struggling to keep above .500. In this matchup the Magic had the upper hand because they had Tracy McGrady. He would have a big game against the Pistons. He scored 46 points in a 104-94 Orlando win.

5. Dominique Wilkins

Wilkins is one of the best scorers in the history of the NBA. On Christmas Day in 1987 he put on a show in Philadelphia. Wilkins would lead the Hawks to a 106-100 win against the 76ers. In 41 minutes of playing time Wilkins would score 45 points on 17-28 shooting. He would also grab nine rebounds and add three assists to his stats.

Best All-Time NBA Christmas Performances
Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield, Massachusetts: Wilt Chamberlain, the greatest basketball player in NBA history. Photo Courtesy By JeromeG111 at Flickr.

4. Michael Jordan

The greatest player in the history of the game was on the verge of winning his third NBA Championship during the 1992-93 season. On his way to it was a 1992 Christmas Day matchup with the New York Knicks. Chicago would host their biggest rivals at the time and Jordan would put on a show in the old Chicago Stadium. He would score 42 points in a 89-77 Chicago win. Along with the 42 points, Jordan would add eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

3. Rick Barry

A 1966 Christmas Day matchup between the San Francisco Warriors and the Cincinnati Royals would feature to future Hall of Famers in San Francisco’s Rick Barry and Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson. While Robertson would score 38 points, it would not be enough to beat the Warriors. San Francisco would win 124-112 behind 50 points from Barry.

2. Bernard King

The New York Knicks were one of the worst teams in the NBA during the 1984-85 season. They finished with the third worst record in the league at 24-58. One of the losses was a 120-114 loss to the New Jersey Nets on Christmas Day in 1984. That game is important though because of what Bernard King did that day. King would score the most points in a Christmas game that day with 60 points in the loss.

1. Wilt Chamberlain

One of the greatest players of all time had the greatest Christmas Day games in the history of the NBA. While the New York Knicks defeated the Philadelphia Warriors 136-135 in double overtime, Wilt Chamberlain was the show that day. He would score a then Christmas record of 59 points and add 36 rebounds in the loss.

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