Games held by the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Christmas Day, December 25, have been an annual tradition since the league's second season in 1947.[1] Since 2008, five games have been played on Christmas. Unlike the National Football League (NFL)'s traditional Thanksgiving Day games, the NBA's Christmas Day games have no fixed opponents; rather, they feature some of the best teams and players.[2] Since 1995, the current NBA champions play a game on Christmas Day.


Doc Rivers (left) and Phil Jackson (right) have participated on Christmas Day as both player and coach.
The NBA often schedules showdowns between greatest players on Christmas Day, such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (both pictured) in 2009 and 2010.

The first NBA game played on December 25 came in 1947, a year after the NBA's inception, when the New York Knicks beat the Providence Steamrollers at Madison Square Garden 89–75.[1] Since then, the NBA has played games every year on Christmas Day except in 1998 (when a lockout canceled half the 1998–99 season). In contrast, Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS) are in their off-seasons during Christmas, the National Football League (NFL) only schedules Christmas games when Christmas falls on the weekend (and even then only schedules games on Christmas occasionally) and the National Hockey League (NHL)'s collective bargaining agreement forbids playing games on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (celebrated as such in Canada as a statutory holiday, though otherwise the non-holiday day after Christmas in the United States; in seasons in which the latter falls on a Saturday, the break occurs one day earlier, from December 23–25). In college football, the only bowl game traditionally scheduled for Christmas has been the defunct Aloha Bowl (and for one year, its replacement, the ESPN Events-owned Hawaii Bowl; that game itself moved its date specifically due to ESPN/ABC's acquisition of NBA telecasts, including Christmas Day games). Thus, the NBA is the only league to regularly schedule games on December 25.[1]

In the early days, regional proximity dictated most of the matchups.[3] Teams would usually play their geographical rivals to cut down on holiday travel and to allow them to have more time with their families.[3] According to Dr. Jack Ramsay, who coached the Portland Trail Blazers from 1976–77 (their only championship season) to 1986, "Christmas meant being at home with the family and having a game we always won. That was a perfect Christmas to me."[3] He set the record for most coaching victories on Christmas Day with 11, an achievement that Phil Jackson later matched in 2008.[4]

In the early 1980s, the New York Knicks put on a show three years in a row. In one game (1984), hall-of-fame forward Bernard King scoring 60 points—the most ever scored by a player on Christmas Day,[1] With the advent of television and the excitement caused by these games, the NBA decided to schedule games over the holiday that showcased the best teams and players.[3]

Teams and players

While there is no specific system to determine for which teams will play the Christmas games, officials from both the NBA and the networks that broadcast the NBA meet during each offseason to plan the schedule of games for the upcoming holiday. The Christmas matchups usually include the teams that played in the previous season's NBA Finals. The NBA also usually tries to feature league's reigning MVP, as well as the league's other best players.[3] Some examples of this include 2009 and 2010, when the defending champions of those seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers played at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009 and the Miami Heat in 2010, so that they could have showdowns between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both times.[3][5]

The Knicks have played more Christmas Day games than any other team, with 54 total. They are 23–31 on the holiday.[6] Their most recent Yuletide appearance came in 2021 when they defeated the Atlanta Hawks, 101–87, at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have a checkered history on the 25th. Their 23 wins are the second most by a team on Christmas Day,[4] while their 31 losses are the most.

Conversely, the Charlotte Hornets are the only active NBA team to never play on Christmas Day, having not been scheduled to play at least once since joining the league in 1988. This includes the franchise's second incarnation as the Charlotte Bobcats which played from 2004 to 2014.[7]

The first Christmas Day game to take place outside the United States took place in 2019 when the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 118-102 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.[8]

Some players have participated on Christmas Day as both player and coach. Doc Rivers played with the Knicks in 1992 and coached the Boston Celtics from 2008 to 2013. Phil Jackson, who also participated as a player and coach, has been a part of at least 20 holiday games,[9] coaching on Christmas every year from 1990, with the exception of 1995 and 2004, until his retirement at the end of the 2010–11 season. He won his 1,000th game on Christmas Day in 2008.[4][10] LeBron James currently holds the record for the most games played on Christmas Day, with 17 games.[11]

Many teams and players that have played on this day have worn special uniforms and sneakers.[5] From 2009 to 2011, the Knicks wore their third jersey, the green/orange alternate which they first used exclusively for St. Patrick's Day. During the game between the Heat and the Lakers in 2010, players on both teams wore holiday sneakers. Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom wore lime-green Nike sneakers[5] while James and Chris Bosh wore holiday-red shoes with green laces.[5] From 2008 to 2011, teams playing on Christmas Day wore a patch featuring the NBA logo inside a snowflake. Between 2012 and 2016, the NBA and Adidas produced special uniforms for the Christmas games. All of these uniforms feature a particular theme, such as monochromatic designs ('Big Color') and chrome-treated logos ('Big Logo'). In 2015 and 2016, Stance provided Christmas-themed socks for the games.

After Nike became the uniform provider in 2017, no Christmas-themed uniforms were produced. Instead, NBA teams playing on that day wore either "City" or "Statement" alternate uniforms. During the 2018–19 season, a few teams wore a fifth alternate known as "Earned" uniforms; these were given as a reward for making the 2018 NBA playoffs. In 2023, the snowflake patch returned to the back of the NBA uniforms; however, with the exception of the Miami Heat who wore their "Statement" red uniform, teams playing on that day wore either the primary "Association" or "Icon" uniforms. The Miami Heat have the best highest Christmas Day win percentage.[12]

Memorable moments

The NBA Christmas Day contests have featured some of the most memorable games ever played.[2][13] Bernard King scored 60 points for the New York Knicks in 1984. Patrick Ewing helped the Knicks come back to beat the Boston Celtics after trailing by 25 points in 1985. He then beat Michael Jordan and the Bulls on a last-second jumper in 1986. Scottie Pippen performed a last-second block in 1994.

The first showdown featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal as opponents occurred on Christmas, 2004. 2009 and 2010 featured faceoffs between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.[3][14][15][16] Phil Jackson becoming the fastest coach to win 1,000 games (it happened on December 25, 2008).[10] In 2021, LeBron James became the all-time Christmas Day scorer with 422 points, surpassing Kobe Bryant, who scored 383 points.[17]

As a result of a lockout in 2011, Christmas Day was also the season opener.[18] ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy talked about that day, saying, "It's a different opening day than has ever happened in the past and Christmas Day games have always been a big day for the NBA. This unique situation combined with the unveiling of a championship banner for the Mavericks in a finals rematch, and then to see the Lakers and the debut of Mike Brown as head coach, those things are all going to be very compelling."[18]

Rivalries have also been showcased during games played on this day. During the 1990s, every Christmas but one featured a game involving either the New York Knicks or the Chicago Bulls, with the two teams playing against each other twice (in the Bulls championship season of 1992–93 and in 1994).[19][20] They would have met a third time in 1998, if there had not been a lockout.[21] The only year during the 1990s in which neither team played on Christmas Day was during the Bulls first championship season in their second three-peat, in 1995–96.[22] During the 2000s, the NBA showcased the Shaq–Kobe feud. Since 1999, each Christmas has featured games involving either the Celtics or the Lakers, with both teams playing on the holiday in 2002 and every year since 2008. In a great pairing, the two teams faced off against each in other during the first of the Lakers' most recent back-to-back championship seasons of 2008–09. This was the first meeting between the two teams since the finals of the year before.

The home team is 142–75 in Christmas games. The winning percentage of .654 for the home team on Christmas Day is better than the overall winning percentage for home teams during the regular season or the playoffs since 1992.[1]


See also: NBA on CBS, NBA on USA, NBA on TBS, NBA on NBC, NBA on ESPN, NBA on ABC, and NBA on TNT

A woman wearing a long black gown. She has long golden hair and is holding a sparkling microphone. She is standing on a large red stage, surrounded by dancers in white attire. Additional background scenery include the audience and three background singers wearing white ensembles and standing on a large platform.
Since 2009, Christmas Day broadcasts of the NBA feature Mariah Carey in a music video singing "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and "Oh Santa!" ("Oh Santa!" since 2010)

The first telecast of an NBA game on Christmas Day dates back to the league's early years. In 1947, the Providence Steamrollers played in New York against the Knicks on WCBS channel 2 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. Stan Lomax and Bob Edge called that game. Fifteen minutes later, at 8:15 p.m. Central Time, Joe Wilson broadcast the game between Baltimore Bullets and Chicago Stags for WBKB channel 4 in Chicago.

The first nationally televised Christmas Day NBA broadcast occurred in 1967, when ABC broadcast a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Diego Rockets from San Diego. Jerry Gross and Jack Twyman called that broadcast for ABC. ABC would continue to televise Christmas Day games through 1972. Chris Schenkel did play-by-play for ABC during this period with the exception of 1970, when Keith Jackson had the honors. Jack Twyman remained in the color commentating position up until 1971, when Bill Russell took over. From 1975-1989 (with the exception of 1982), CBS broadcast a game on Christmas Day.

However, it was not until 1983 that the games became a household tradition, when CBS broadcast the game between the New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks and ESPN broadcast the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers (Sam Smith and Dick Vitale were on the call for ESPN).[13] In the 1990s, NBC broadcast a doubleheader each year on Christmas Day (except in 1998, when there were no games played on Christmas Day due to the 1998–99 NBA lockout) and this has continued after ABC took over in 2002, except that in 2004 and 2006, ABC broadcast only one game. For three years (2004–2006), ABC insisted on having a Christmas Day game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers so that Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal could play against each other. Since ABC took over the NBA, ESPN has also broadcast games on Christmas Day (except in 2006). Since 2009, Christmas Day broadcasts on ESPN and ABC have featured a music video with Mariah Carey singing "All I Want for Christmas Is You."[23][24] In 2010, Carey added "Oh Santa!"[24]

In 2008, TNT broadcast on Christmas Day for the first time as Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Craig Sager called the game between Washington and Cleveland in Cleveland and Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller called the game between Dallas and Portland in Portland. This marked the first time that all three networks that cover the NBA (ABC, ESPN, and TNT) produced games on Christmas Day. As Christmas Day fell on a Thursday that year, TNT was given two primetime games as part of their regular TNT NBA Thursday slate (the same scenario also took place in 2014).

Due to the 2011 NBA lockout, the season opener took place on Christmas Day that year. As a result, the NBA gave TNT the first game of the Christmas slate with a contest between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Calling the game were Marv Albert (himself a former Knicks broadcaster) and Steve Kerr.[18] Because of this, Albert, who was also working for CBS's NFL coverage, was forced to miss his scheduled Week 16 game the day before. Also on that day, ABC broadcast the Dallas Mavericks' 2011 Championship banner ceremony during their pre-game show. This marked the first time in NBA history that a pre-game championship banner ceremony has been aired on a terrestrial television network; either Turner Sports or a regional sports network aired the ceremonies in previous years.

In a unique situation in 2017, ABC aired an NBA tripleheader for the first time ever, which was headlined by a 2017 NBA Finals rematch between LeBron James and the Cavaliers and Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors, which would be the prelude to the 2018 Finals rematch, which resulted in a Warriors sweep. Because ESPN aired Monday Night Football on Christmas night, they only aired one game, which was at 12 ET. TNT aired the 10:30 pm game, the network's first Christmas Day game since 2014. However, instead of employing either Marv Albert or Kevin Harlan and their roster of game analysts, Turner opted to use the Inside the NBA crew of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny "The Jet" Smith and Charles Barkley for the game, with TNT's No. 2 sideline reporter Kristen Ledlow working the sidelines and halftime. Since 2018, at least one Christmas Day game has been simulcast on both ESPN and ABC.

For 2022, ABC was originally scheduled to air a tripleheader. However in October 2022, ESPN announced that all five of its Christmas Day games would be simulcast across both ABC and ESPN, likely as an attempt to counterprogram the NFL's scheduling of a Christmas Day tripleheader across CBS, Fox, and NBC.[25] With network programming spanning throughout most of the day, beginning with Good Morning America Weekend (starting at 7:00 am local time) and the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade (airing across the country at 10:00 am ET),[26] and then NBA coverage stretching from the first tripleheader game (PhiladelphiaNew York) at noon ET,[27] which also featured an alternate broadcast on ESPN2 hosted by Stephen A. Smith, and was simulcast on ESPN+, to the conclusion of the last game (PhoenixDenver) after 1:45 am ET early on December 26 (the game went to overtime), some ABC affiliates gave their local news department employees the entire day off.

With Christmas Day falling on a Monday in 2023, the NFL also scheduled a Monday Night Football on that day. Because ABC/ESPN holds the broadcast rights to both NBA Christmas games and Monday Night Football, it was decided that ESPN will again air all five NBA games, but ABC will only simulcast two of them (Golden StateDenver at 2:30 pm ET, followed by BostonLA Lakers at 5 pm ET) in favor of exclusively airing the Monday Night Football game. This would mark the first time since 2016 that ABC will televise fewer than three NBA Christmas games.[28] ESPN also simulcast all games on ESPN+ and aired an alternate broadcast for the first game (Milwaukee-New York Knicks at noon ET), hosted by WNBA legends Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, on ESPN2.

Game results

Season Visiting team Score Home team Score OT Significance Network[a]
1947–48 Chicago Stags 70 Baltimore Bullets 87 First BAA Christmas Day game.
Providence Steamrollers 75 New York Knicks 89
Washington Capitols 73 St. Louis Bombers 56
1948–49 Chicago Stags 70 New York Knicks 64
Boston Celtics 77 Philadelphia Warriors 80
Baltimore Bullets 88 Providence Steamrollers 83 Bullets enter as the defending BAA champions.
St. Louis Bombers 82 Rochester Royals 90
Fort Wayne Pistons 74 Washington Capitols 88
1949–50 Philadelphia Warriors 64 Baltimore Bullets 63 First Christmas Day game for the renamed NBA.
Sheboygan Red Skins 76 Denver Nuggets 72
Fort Wayne Pistons 58 Minneapolis Lakers 72 Lakers enter as the defending BAA (NBA) champions.
Boston Celtics 79 Rochester Royals 88
Washington Capitols 81 St. Louis Bombers 68
Anderson Packers 88 Syracuse Nationals 94
Indianapolis Olympians 93 Waterloo Hawks 97
1950–51 Washington Capitols 79 Minneapolis Lakers 93
New York Knicks 86 Philadelphia Warriors 84 (OT)
Boston Celtics 77 Rochester Royals 90
Fort Wayne Pistons 69 Syracuse Nationals 81
Baltimore Bullets 72 Tri-Cities Blackhawks 87
1951–52 Syracuse Nationals 78 Milwaukee Hawks 88
Boston Celtics 79 Minneapolis Lakers 108
Fort Wayne Pistons 80 New York Knicks 89 Knicks enter as the defending Eastern division champions.
Indianapolis Olympians 73 Rochester Royals 65 Royals enter as the defending NBA champions.
1952–53 Milwaukee Hawks 69 Fort Wayne Pistons 71 (2OT)
Indianapolis Olympians 73 Minneapolis Lakers 90 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions.
Boston Celtics 84 New York Knicks 97
Rochester Royals 93 Philadelphia Warriors 78
Baltimore Bullets 92 Syracuse Nationals 102
1953–54 Minneapolis Lakers 78 Baltimore Bullets 88 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions.
Boston Celtics 79 Fort Wayne Pistons 108
Syracuse Nationals 80 New York Knicks 89
Rochester Royals 73 Philadelphia Warriors 65
1954–55 Boston Celtics 108 Milwaukee Hawks 99
Philadelphia Warriors 91 Minneapolis Lakers 99 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions.
Syracuse Nationals 101 New York Knicks 109
Fort Wayne Pistons 73 Rochester Royals 80
1955–56 New York Knicks 87 Fort Wayne Pistons 92
Boston Celtics 115 Minneapolis Lakers 112
Rochester Royals 96 Syracuse Nationals 111 Nationals enter as the defending NBA champions.
1956–57 Philadelphia Warriors 89 Boston Celtics 82 Warriors enter as the defending NBA champions.
Minneapolis Lakers 100 Fort Wayne Pistons 89
St. Louis Hawks 107 New York Knicks 105 (OT)
Syracuse Nationals 93 Rochester Royals 98
1957–58 Minneapolis Lakers 106 Detroit Pistons 104
Boston Celtics 105 Philadelphia Warriors 115 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions.
New York Knicks 130 Syracuse Nationals 134 (OT)
1958–59 St. Louis Hawks 100 Cincinnati Royals 92 Hawks enter as the defending NBA champions.
Minneapolis Lakers 97 Detroit Pistons 98 (OT)
Boston Celtics 129 New York Knicks 120
1959–60 Detroit Pistons 103 Cincinnati Royals 121
Boston Celtics 123 New York Knicks 119 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions.
Syracuse Nationals 121 Philadelphia Warriors 129
Minneapolis Lakers 96 St. Louis Hawks 112 Hawks enter as the defending Western division champions.
1960–61 Detroit Pistons 119 Cincinnati Royals 126
New York Knicks 100 Syracuse Nationals 162
1961–62 Detroit Pistons 97 Chicago Packers 118 The Wizards franchise's first NBA Christmas Day game.
Los Angeles Lakers 141 Cincinnati Royals 127
Philadelphia Warriors 135 New York Knicks 136 (2OT)
Boston Celtics 127 Syracuse Nationals 122 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions.
1962–63 Detroit Pistons 120 Cincinnati Royals 131
Syracuse Nationals 123 New York Knicks 111
St. Louis Hawks 91 San Francisco Warriors 94
1963–64 St. Louis Hawks 107 Cincinnati Royals 113
Los Angeles Lakers 134 New York Knicks 126
1964–65 Detroit Pistons 106 Boston Celtics 118 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions.
St. Louis Hawks 125 Cincinnati Royals 130 (OT)
Baltimore Bullets 114 New York Knicks 108
1965–66 Boston Celtics 113 Baltimore Bullets 99 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions.
San Francisco Warriors 113 Cincinnati Royals 119
Detroit Pistons 106 Los Angeles Lakers 115
St. Louis Hawks 131 New York Knicks 111
1966–67 Detroit Pistons 129 Baltimore Bullets 127 (OT)
San Francisco Warriors 124 Cincinnati Royals 112
Chicago Bulls 132 New York Knicks 133 Bulls–Knicks rivalry
1967–68 Philadelphia 76ers 108 Baltimore Bullets 105 76ers enter as the defending NBA champions.
Seattle SuperSonics 112 Cincinnati Royals 118 SuperSonics' first Christmas Day game
Boston Celtics 134 New York Knicks 124
Los Angeles Lakers 101 San Diego Rockets 104 Rockets' first Christmas Day game; also first nationally televised game (ABC). ABC
Oakland Oaks 98 Kentucky Colonels 112 ABA game
1968–69 Seattle SuperSonics 112 Baltimore Bullets 118
Chicago Bulls 98 Cincinnati Royals 103
Detroit Pistons 119 Milwaukee Bucks 113 Bucks' first Christmas Day game
Philadelphia 76ers 109 New York Knicks 110
Los Angeles Lakers 119 Phoenix Suns 99 Suns' first Christmas Day game. Lakers enter as the defending Western division champions. ABC
Minnesota Pipers 129 Kentucky Colonels 118 ABA game
Oakland Oaks 127 Los Angeles Stars 122 ABA game
Denver Rockets 129 New York Nets 110 ABA game
1969–70 Philadelphia 76ers 113 Baltimore Bullets 121
San Francisco Warriors 124 Cincinnati Royals 120 (OT)
Detroit Pistons 111 New York Knicks 112
Boston Celtics 116 Phoenix Suns 127 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Los Angeles Stars 105 Kentucky Colonels 101 ABA game
Washington Caps 131 Pittsburgh Pipers 112 ABA game
1970–71 Chicago Bulls 112 Baltimore Bullets 128
Cleveland Cavaliers 100 Cincinnati Royals 117
Boston Celtics 113 Los Angeles Lakers 123
Buffalo Braves 102 New York Knicks 115 Braves' first Christmas Day game, Knicks enter as the defending NBA champions.
Detroit Pistons 100 Philadelphia 76ers 105
Atlanta Hawks 115 Phoenix Suns 127 ABC
Utah Stars 102 Memphis Pros 107 ABA game
Carolina Cougars 121 Pittsburgh Condors 136 ABA game
Texas Chaparrals 131 Virginia Squires 145 ABA game
1971–72 Buffalo Braves 117 Atlanta Hawks 140
Boston Celtics 99 Cincinnati Royals 94
Milwaukee Bucks 118 Detroit Pistons 120 (OT) Bucks enter as the defending NBA champions.
Golden State Warriors 89 New York Knicks 114
Baltimore Bullets 117 Philadelphia 76ers 114 Bullets enter as the defending Eastern conference champions.
Seattle SuperSonics 86 Phoenix Suns 116
Chicago Bulls 109 Portland Trail Blazers 88
Carolina Cougars 102 Memphis Pros 110 ABA game
Indiana Pacers 129 Utah Stars 150 ABA game
Pittsburgh Condors 126 Virginia Squires 133 ABA game
1972–73 Milwaukee Bucks 104 Kansas City-Omaha Kings 99
Detroit Pistons 110 New York Knicks 113
Chicago Bulls 108 Phoenix Suns 115 ABC
Seattle SuperSonics 113 Portland Trail Blazers 116
1973–74 Capital Bullets 102 New York Knicks 100 Knicks enter as the defending NBA champions.
Los Angeles Lakers 100 Phoenix Suns 135
1974–75 Philadelphia 76ers 104 New York Knicks 97
Boston Celtics 96 Phoenix Suns 110 Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions.
Atlanta Hawks 92 Washington Bullets 110
San Diego Conquistadors 100 Utah Stars 112 ABA game
1975–76 Houston Rockets 99 New Orleans Jazz 101 Jazz's first Christmas Day game
Philadelphia 76ers 103 New York Knicks 111
Kansas City Kings 111 Phoenix Suns 122 CBS
Atlanta Hawks 94 Washington Bullets 99 Bullets enter as the defending Eastern conference champions.
1976–77 Detroit Pistons 106 Buffalo Braves 115
Chicago Bulls 96 Kansas City Kings 91 CBS
Philadelphia 76ers 105 New York Knicks 104
Los Angeles Lakers 96 Phoenix Suns 113
Seattle SuperSonics 95 Portland Trail Blazers 110
Cleveland Cavaliers 99 Washington Bullets 117
1977–78 Buffalo Braves 105 Cleveland Cavaliers 111 CBS
Milwaukee Bucks 131 Kansas City Kings 122
San Antonio Spurs 115 New Orleans Jazz 105
Philadelphia 76ers 110 New York Knicks 113
Golden State Warriors 97 Portland Trail Blazers 109 Trail Blazers enter as the defending NBA champions.
Los Angeles Lakers 111 Seattle SuperSonics 96
Atlanta Hawks 93 Washington Bullets 100
1978–79 Philadelphia 76ers 109 New York Knicks 94 CBS
Golden State Warriors 102 Portland Trail Blazers 115
San Diego Clippers 123 Seattle SuperSonics 118
1979–80 Detroit Pistons 101 Cleveland Cavaliers 111
New Jersey Nets 102 New York Knicks 131 Knicks–Nets rivalry
Golden State Warriors 91 Portland Trail Blazers 113
Denver Nuggets 111 Utah Jazz 122
Philadelphia 76ers 95 Washington Bullets 92 CBS
1980–81 Boston Celtics 117 New York Knicks 108 Celtics–Knicks rivalry CBS
San Antonio Spurs 111 Phoenix Suns 131 Spurs–Suns rivalry
Golden State Warriors 114 Portland Trail Blazers 115 USA
New Jersey Nets 94 Washington Bullets 109 USA
1981–82 New Jersey Nets 96 New York Knicks 95 Knicks–Nets rivalry
Los Angeles Lakers 104 Phoenix Suns 101 CBS
Seattle SuperSonics 94 Portland Trail Blazers 99
Indiana Pacers 98 Washington Bullets 115
1982–83 New Jersey Nets 112 New York Knicks 110 (OT) Knicks–Nets rivalry
Seattle SuperSonics 88 Portland Trail Blazers 95
Phoenix Suns 111 Utah Jazz 101
Atlanta Hawks 97 Washington Bullets 91
1983–84 New Jersey Nets 110 New York Knicks 112 (OT) Knicks–Nets rivalry CBS
Los Angeles Lakers 121 Portland Trail Blazers 141 ESPN
1984–85 Atlanta Hawks 106 Cleveland Cavaliers 109
Philadelphia 76ers 109 Detroit Pistons 108 CBS
New Jersey Nets 120 New York Knicks 114 Knicks–Nets rivalry TBS
Golden State Warriors 97 Portland Trail Blazers 106
1985–86 Boston Celtics 104 New York Knicks 113 (2OT) Celtics–Knicks rivalry. Celtics enter as the defending Eastern Conference champions. CBS
Los Angeles Clippers 107 Portland Trail Blazers 121 TBS
1986–87 Chicago Bulls 85 New York Knicks 86 Bulls–Knicks rivalry CBS
Washington Bullets 102 Philadelphia 76ers 97 1986 NBA playoffs first round rematch TBS
1987–88 Detroit Pistons 91 New York Knicks 87 CBS
Atlanta Hawks 106 Philadelphia 76ers 100 TBS
1988–89 Washington Bullets 110 Philadelphia 76ers 125 TBS
Los Angeles Lakers 87 Utah Jazz 101 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. 1988 NBA playoffs second round rematch CBS
1989–90 Cleveland Cavaliers 104 Atlanta Hawks 115 CBS
1990–91 Detroit Pistons 86 Chicago Bulls 98 Bulls–Pistons rivalry, Pistons enter as the defending NBA champions.

1990 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals rematch

1991–92 Boston Celtics 99 Chicago Bulls 121 Bulls enter as the defending NBA champions. NBC
Los Angeles Lakers 85 Los Angeles Clippers 75 Lakers–Clippers rivalry. Lakers enter as defending Western conference champions. NBC
1992–93 New York Knicks 77 Chicago Bulls 89 Bulls–Knicks rivalry, Bulls enter as the defending NBA champions.

1992 NBA playoffs second round rematch

San Antonio Spurs 103 Los Angeles Clippers 94 NBC
1993–94 Orlando Magic 93 Chicago Bulls 95 Magic' First Christmas Game

Bulls enter as the defending NBA champions.

Houston Rockets 91 Phoenix Suns 111 NBC
1994–95 New York Knicks 104 Chicago Bulls 107 (OT) Bulls–Knicks rivalry 1994 NBA playoffs second round rematch NBC
Seattle SuperSonics 96 Denver Nuggets 105 1994 NBA playoffs first round rematch NBC
1995–96 Houston Rockets 90 Orlando Magic 92 1995 NBA Finals rematch, Rockets enter as the defending NBA champions. NBC
San Antonio Spurs 105 Phoenix Suns 100 Spurs–Suns rivalry NBC
1996–97 Detroit Pistons 83 Chicago Bulls 95 Bulls–Pistons rivalry, Bulls enter as the defending NBA champions. NBC
Los Angeles Lakers 108 Phoenix Suns 87 NBC
1997–98 Miami Heat 80 Chicago Bulls 90 Bulls enter as the defending NBA champions. 1997 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals rematch NBC
Houston Rockets 103 Utah Jazz 107 Jazz–Rockets rivalry 1997 NBA playoffs Western Conference Finals rematch NBC
1998–99 Due to the league's six-month lockout, the season started late in February. As a result, no Christmas Day game was held during this season.
1999–2000 New York Knicks 90 Indiana Pacers 101 Knicks–Pacers rivalry, 1999 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals rematch. Knicks enter as the defending Eastern conference champions. NBC
San Antonio Spurs 93 Los Angeles Lakers 99 Lakers–Spurs rivalry, 1999 NBA playoffs second round rematch, Spurs enter as the defending NBA champions. NBC
2000–01 Orlando Magic 93 Indiana Pacers 103 NBC
Portland Trail Blazers 109 Los Angeles Lakers 104 2000 NBA playoffs Western Conference Finals rematch., Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. NBC
2001–02 Philadelphia 76ers 82 Los Angeles Lakers 88 2001 NBA Finals rematch, Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. NBC
Toronto Raptors 94 New York Knicks 102 Raptors' first Christmas Day game, 2001 NBA playoffs first round rematch. NBC
2002–03 Detroit Pistons 99 Orlando Magic 107 (OT) ESPN
Boston Celtics 81 New Jersey Nets 117 2002 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals rematch. Nets enter as defending Eastern conference champions. ABC
Sacramento Kings 105 Los Angeles Lakers 99 2002 NBA playoffs Western Conference Finals rematch, Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
2003–04 Cleveland Cavaliers 101 Orlando Magic 113 (OT) LeBron James's first Christmas Day game. ESPN
Dallas Mavericks 111 Sacramento Kings 103 Mavericks' first Christmas Day game, 2003 NBA playoffs second round rematch. ABC
Houston Rockets 99 Los Angeles Lakers 87 ABC
2004–05 Detroit Pistons 98 Indiana Pacers 93 2004 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals rematch, Malice at the Palace rematch, Pistons enter as the defending NBA champions. ESPN
Miami Heat 104 Los Angeles Lakers 102 (OT) Shaq–Kobe feud. Lakers enter as the defending Western conference champions. ABC
2005–06 San Antonio Spurs 70 Detroit Pistons 85 2005 NBA Finals rematch, Spurs enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Los Angeles Lakers 92 Miami Heat 97 Shaq–Kobe feud ABC
2006–07 Los Angeles Lakers 85 Miami Heat 101 Shaq–Kobe feud, Heat enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
2007–08 Miami Heat 82 Cleveland Cavaliers 96 Cavaliers enter as the defending Eastern conference champions. ABC
Phoenix Suns 115 Los Angeles Lakers 122 2007 NBA playoffs first round rematch. ABC
Seattle SuperSonics 79 Portland Trail Blazers 89 ESPN
2008–09 Washington Wizards 89 Cleveland Cavaliers 93 2008 NBA playoffs first round rematch. TNT
Boston Celtics 83 Los Angeles Lakers 92 Celtics–Lakers rivalry, 2008 NBA Finals rematch, Celtics enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
New Orleans Hornets 68 Orlando Magic 88 New Orleans franchise's first Christmas Day game. ESPN
San Antonio Spurs 91 Phoenix Suns 90 Spurs–Suns rivalry, 2008 NBA playoffs first round rematch. ABC
Dallas Mavericks 102 Portland Trail Blazers 94 TNT
2009–10 Miami Heat 93 New York Knicks 87 Heat–Knicks rivalry ESPN
Cleveland Cavaliers 102 Los Angeles Lakers 87 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Boston Celtics 86 Orlando Magic 77 2009 NBA playoffs second round rematch. ABC
Los Angeles Clippers 93 Phoenix Suns 124 ESPN
Denver Nuggets 96 Portland Trail Blazers 107 ESPN
2010–11 Chicago Bulls 95 New York Knicks 103 Bulls–Knicks rivalry ESPN
Boston Celtics 78 Orlando Magic 86 2010 NBA playoffs Eastern Conference Finals rematch. ABC
Miami Heat 96 Los Angeles Lakers 80 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Denver Nuggets 106 Oklahoma City Thunder 114 ESPN
Portland Trail Blazers 102 Golden State Warriors 109 ESPN
2011–12 Boston Celtics 104 New York Knicks 106 Celtics–Knicks rivalry, 2011 NBA playoffs first round rematch. TNT
Miami Heat 105 Dallas Mavericks 94 2011 NBA Finals rematch, Mavericks enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Chicago Bulls 88 Los Angeles Lakers 87 ABC
Orlando Magic 89 Oklahoma City Thunder 97 ESPN
Los Angeles Clippers 105 Golden State Warriors 86 ESPN
2012–13 Boston Celtics 93 Brooklyn Nets 76 ESPN
New York Knicks 94 Los Angeles Lakers 100 ABC
Oklahoma City Thunder 97 Miami Heat 103 2012 NBA Finals rematch, Heat enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Houston Rockets 120 Chicago Bulls 97 ESPN
Denver Nuggets 100 Los Angeles Clippers 112 ESPN
2013–14 Chicago Bulls 95 Brooklyn Nets 78 2013 NBA playoffs first round rematch. ESPN
Oklahoma City Thunder 123 New York Knicks 94 ABC
Miami Heat 101 Los Angeles Lakers 95 Heat enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Houston Rockets 111 San Antonio Spurs 98 Rockets–Spurs rivalry ESPN
Los Angeles Clippers 103 Golden State Warriors 105 ESPN
2014–15 Washington Wizards 102 New York Knicks 91 ESPN
Oklahoma City Thunder 114 San Antonio Spurs 106 2014 NBA playoffs Western Conference Finals rematch, Spurs enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Cleveland Cavaliers 91 Miami Heat 101 LeBron James against his former team. ABC
Los Angeles Lakers 93 Chicago Bulls 113 TNT
Golden State Warriors 86 Los Angeles Clippers 100 2014 NBA playoffs first round rematch. TNT
2015–16 New Orleans Pelicans 88 Miami Heat 94 (OT) ESPN
Chicago Bulls 105 Oklahoma City Thunder 96 ABC
Cleveland Cavaliers 83 Golden State Warriors 89 Cavaliers–Warriors rivalry
2015 NBA Finals rematch
Warriors enter as the defending NBA champions.
2016 NBA Finals preview
San Antonio Spurs 84 Houston Rockets 88 Rockets–Spurs rivalry ESPN
Los Angeles Clippers 94 Los Angeles Lakers 84 Lakers–Clippers rivalry ESPN
2016–17 Boston Celtics 119 New York Knicks 114 Celtics–Knicks rivalry ESPN
Golden State Warriors 108 Cleveland Cavaliers 109 Cavaliers–Warriors rivalry
2016 NBA Finals rematch
Cavaliers enter as the defending NBA champions.
2017 NBA Finals preview
Chicago Bulls 100 San Antonio Spurs 119 ABC
Minnesota Timberwolves 100 Oklahoma City Thunder 112 Timberwolves' first Christmas Day game ESPN
Los Angeles Clippers 102 Los Angeles Lakers 111 Lakers–Clippers rivalry ESPN
2017–18 Philadelphia 76ers 105 New York Knicks 98 ESPN
Cleveland Cavaliers 92 Golden State Warriors 99 Cavaliers–Warriors rivalry
2017 NBA Finals rematch
Warriors enter as the defending NBA champions.
2018 NBA Finals preview
Washington Wizards 111 Boston Celtics 103 2017 NBA playoffs second round rematch. ABC
Houston Rockets 107 Oklahoma City Thunder 112 2017 NBA playoffs first round rematch. ABC
Minnesota Timberwolves 121 Los Angeles Lakers 104 TNT
2018–19 Milwaukee Bucks 109 New York Knicks 95 ESPN
Oklahoma City Thunder 109 Houston Rockets 113 ABC
Philadelphia 76ers 114 Boston Celtics 121 (OT) 76ers–Celtics rivalry, 2018 NBA playoffs second round rematch. ABC
Los Angeles Lakers 127 Golden State Warriors 101 Warriors enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC/ESPN
Portland Trail Blazers 96 Utah Jazz 117 ESPN
2019–20 Boston Celtics 118 Toronto Raptors 102 First Christmas Day game in Canada; Raptors enter as the defending NBA champions. ESPN
Milwaukee Bucks 109 Philadelphia 76ers 121 ABC
Houston Rockets 104 Golden State Warriors 116 2019 NBA playoffs second round rematch. Warriors enter as defending Western conference champions. ABC
Los Angeles Clippers 111 Los Angeles Lakers 106 Lakers–Clippers rivalry ABC/ESPN
New Orleans Pelicans 112 Denver Nuggets 100 ESPN
2020–21 New Orleans Pelicans 98 Miami Heat 111 Heat enter as the defending Eastern conference champions. ESPN
Golden State Warriors 99 Milwaukee Bucks 138 ABC
Brooklyn Nets 123 Boston Celtics 95 ABC
Dallas Mavericks 115 Los Angeles Lakers 138 Lakers enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC/ESPN
Los Angeles Clippers 121 Denver Nuggets 108 2020 NBA playoffs second round rematch ESPN
2021–22 Atlanta Hawks 87 New York Knicks 101 2021 NBA playoffs first round rematch. ESPN
Boston Celtics 113 Milwaukee Bucks 117 Bucks enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC
Golden State Warriors 116 Phoenix Suns 107 Stephen Curry breaks Christmas slump. Suns enter as the defending Western conference champions. ABC
Brooklyn Nets 122 Los Angeles Lakers 115 ABC/ESPN
Dallas Mavericks 116 Utah Jazz 120 ESPN
2022–23 Philadelphia 76ers 119 New York Knicks 112 ABC/ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN+[b]
Los Angeles Lakers 115 Dallas Mavericks 124 ABC/ESPN
Milwaukee Bucks 118 Boston Celtics 139 Celtics enter as the defending Eastern conference champions. 2022 NBA playoffs second round rematch. ABC/ESPN
Memphis Grizzlies 109 Golden State Warriors 123 Grizzlies' first Christmas Day game, Warriors enter as the defending NBA champions. 2022 NBA playoffs second round rematch. ABC/ESPN
Phoenix Suns 125 Denver Nuggets 128 (OT) ABC/ESPN[b]
2023–24 Milwaukee Bucks 122 New York Knicks 129 ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN+
Golden State Warriors 114 Denver Nuggets 120 Nuggets enter as the defending NBA champions. ABC/ESPN/ESPN+
Boston Celtics 126 Los Angeles Lakers 115 Celtics–Lakers rivalry ABC/ESPN/ESPN+
Philadelphia 76ers 113 Miami Heat 119 Heat enter as the defending Eastern conference champions.
2024 NBA play-in tournament preview.
Dallas Mavericks 128 Phoenix Suns 114 ESPN/ESPN+

Christmas Day standings

Of current NBA teams.[29]

Team Last Game Wins Losses Win % Previous team names
Atlanta Hawks 2021
(Lost 101–87 at New York)
9 12 .429 Tri-Cities Blackhawks (1949–1951)
Milwaukee Hawks (1951–1955)
St. Louis Hawks (1955–1968)
Boston Celtics 2023
(Won 126-115 vs. L.A Lakers)
17 20 .459
Brooklyn Nets 2021
(Won 122–115 at L.A. Lakers)
6 5 .545 New Jersey Nets (1977–2012)
Charlotte Hornets Never 0 0 Charlotte Bobcats (2004–2014)
Chicago Bulls 2016
(Lost 119–100 at San Antonio)
13 8 .619
Cleveland Cavaliers 2017
(Lost 99–92 at Golden State)
7 7 .500
Dallas Mavericks 2023
(Won 128–114 at Phoenix)
4 3 .571
Denver Nuggets 2023
(Won 120–114 vs. Golden State)
3 6 .333
Detroit Pistons 2005
(Won 85–70 vs. San Antonio)
10 22 .313 Fort Wayne Pistons (1948–1957)
Golden State Warriors 2023
(Lost 114–120 at Denver)
15 18 .455 Philadelphia Warriors (1946–1962)
San Francisco Warriors (1962–1971)
Houston Rockets 2019
(Lost 104–116 at Golden State)
6 6 .500 San Diego Rockets (1967–1971)
Indiana Pacers 2004
(Lost 98–93 vs. Detroit)
2 2 .500
Los Angeles Clippers 2020
(Won 121–108 at Denver)
8 9 .471 Buffalo Braves (1970–1978)
San Diego Clippers (1978–1984)
Los Angeles Lakers 2023
(Lost 115–124 at Dallas)
24 26 .480 Minneapolis Lakers (1948–1960)
Memphis Grizzlies 2022
(Lost 123–109 at Golden State)
0 1 .000 Vancouver Grizzlies (1995–2001)
Miami Heat 2023
(Won 111–98 vs. New Orleans)
12 2 .857
Milwaukee Bucks 2023
(Lost 122–129 at New York)
5 5 .500
Minnesota Timberwolves 2017
(Won 121–104 at L.A. Lakers)
1 1 .500
New Orleans Pelicans 2020
(Lost 98–111 at Miami)
1 3 .250 New Orleans Hornets (2002–2005, 2007–2013)
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (2005–2007)
New York Knicks 2023
(Won 129–122 vs. Milwaukee)
24 32 .429
Oklahoma City Thunder 2018
(Lost 113–109 at Houston)
6 14 .300 Seattle SuperSonics (1967–2008)
Orlando Magic 2011
(Lost 97–89 at Oklahoma City)
5 4 .556
Philadelphia 76ers 2023
(Won 119–112 at New York)
19 15 .559 Syracuse Nationals (1949–1963)
Phoenix Suns 2023
(Lost 114–128 vs Dallas)
12 9 .571
Portland Trail Blazers 2018
(Lost 117–96 at Utah)
14 4 .778
Sacramento Kings 2003
(Lost 111–103 vs. Dallas)
18 11 .621 Rochester Royals (1948–1957)
Cincinnati Royals (1957–1972)
Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1972–1975)
Kansas City Kings (1975–1985)
San Antonio Spurs 2016
(Won 119–100 vs. Chicago)
5 6 .455
Toronto Raptors 2019
(Lost 118–102 vs. Boston)
0 2 .000
Utah Jazz 2021
(Won 120–116 vs. Dallas)
6 2 .750 New Orleans Jazz (1974–1979)
Washington Wizards 2017
(Won 111–103 at Boston)
16 7 .696 Chicago Packers (1961–1962)
Chicago Zephyrs (1962–1963)
Baltimore Bullets (1963–1973)
Capital Bullets (1973–1974)
Washington Bullets (1974–1997)

Most frequent match-ups among active teams

Count Matchup Record Years Played
13 New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers 76ers, 8–5 1953, 1954, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 2017, 2022
8 Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks Celtics, 5–3 1954, 1958, 1959, 1967, 1980, 1985, 2011, 2016
6 Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers Trail Blazers, 5–1 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1984, 2010
6 Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns Lakers, 4–2 1968, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1996, 2007
6 Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards Tie, 3–3 1967, 1969, 1971, 1979, 1986, 1988



Mike D'Antoni said that the players should feel "very fortunate" to play on Christmas Day and said that they could adjust their schedules a bit.

Several fans, players, coaches, and members of the news media support the tradition of Christmas games. For players and coaches, the standard public statement is that a Christmas game is an honor, as it is not only a chance to play on national television, but also a reward for having a great team and great players.[3]

Before the game between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic at Amway Arena in 2009, personnel on both sides referred to playing on Christmas as a reward. Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said that like most of the players, he always watched Christmas Day games growing up. He said, "As a kid, you wanted to be on Christmas...I tend to look at it as a reward."[30] In 2010, added that it was an "honor" to be part of the marquee games, saying, "I look at it as a privilege. The fact that they asked us to play on Christmas means we're one of the good teams, one of the featured teams."[31] Magic Center Dwight Howard said that he didn't "see a challenge. We're playing basketball on Christmas. We couldn't help it. If you play on a pretty good team and if you have to play on Christmas, so be it. I enjoy it. I'd rather be playing on Christmas than sitting at home wishing I was playing on Christmas. I like it. I think it's fun."[13]

Lamar Odom called it "a tremendous privilege to be able to entertain the world...playing on TV in those games."[3] In 2010, Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni said that players should be "very fortunate" to be playing on Christmas Day and that "it helps the league, helps other people on Christmas or on the holidays."[20]

Doug White, an ESPN executive, said that Christmas is "Thanksgiving on the NBA side. Obviously, Christmas Day is a day when everybody is home, everybody is relaxing, and what better way to serve them than with as many games as we possibly can...We try to put on the best games possible that people have interest in."[32] Jermaine O'Neal on the Celtics agreed, saying, "It's special because the whole world is watching. It's Christmas, it's a special day, with everybody together to spend time with each other, as far as family and friends. We have the opportunity to do that, bringing our families down with us. It makes it that much more special—the opportunity to play in front of the rest of the world and be together at Christmas with our family."[31]

During broadcasts of NBA games, commentators and the news media have agreed with White and said that the nature of the games played has made Christmas Day the best day of an NBA regular season. They serve as a preview of a potential series in the playoffs, and perhaps, the finals.[9][24]


See also: NBA criticisms and controversies

The Orlando Magic were fined in 2009 after Coach Stan Van Gundy said that the NBA should not be playing on Christmas Day.

In recent years, players and coaches have complained about playing on Christmas Day, saying that takes time away from families.[33] In 2009, Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy requested that the NBA do not schedule any more games on Christmas Day, saying "I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game" and said that the day is best spent with family.[30] The Magic coach was fined for his comments.[33]

In 2010, there were complaints from both sides before the game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. Lakers coach Phil Jackson, son of two Christian ministers and author of a book on spiritual growth related to basketball, said, "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day" and "it's like Christian holidays don't mean...anything any more."[34] From the Heat, LeBron James said, "if you ask any player in the league, we'd rather be home with our families...It's not just a regular holiday. It' of those days that you wish you could wake up in the morning with the kids and open up presents."

Others have managed to voice some discontent while still accepting the Christmas game tradition. Before the game between the Bulls and the Knicks in New York, Coach Mike D'Antoni said, "I can adjust a little bit. I can open my presents up at 7 o'clock at night instead of 7 o'clock in the morning."[20] Raymond Felton said, "you'd rather be with your family. We're still going to celebrate." He, like many players, said that he was fortunate to have played with his family in attendance.[20] Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said, "I think it's an honor and a privilege to be playing. I know it's tough on the away team, particularly the players who have kids. But that's all part of it."[19] Derrick Rose said, "I'm going to miss my family, and I hate being away from home. But this is my job and it's an honor to be playing on Christmas."[19]

In 2004, the NBA was erroneously criticized for scheduling a game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers as the first matchup since their brawl that the two teams had faced each other.[35] The regular season, and the game, was scheduled well before the brawl took place, and was played with a higher-than-normal security presence and fan restrictions to prevent a repeat occurrence.[35] The other game scheduled that day drew similar criticism. The game between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center marked the first time since the Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Heat that the two teams were facing each other and the first time that Shaq and Kobe Bryant would be facing each other as opponents.[14]

The NBA does not schedule games on Christmas Eve, December 24, to allow players and coaches who have to play on Christmas Day to be with their families.[33] Also families of players and coaches who participate in Christmas games, normally attend the games.[33]

Television ratings

See also: NBA on television

The NBA's Christmas games have garnered some of the highest ratings for any televised regular season NBA game. The TV ratings for the biggest Christmas games are often higher than any NBA game outside of the NBA Finals, and for many U.S. sports fans, Christmas serves as an unofficial "start" to the NBA season; the usual start of the NBA season occurs under relatively little fanfare compared to the NFL or MLB, as those leagues are at the most consequential points of their seasons.

However, ratings for the NBA's Christmas games usually pale in comparison to the NFL whenever the league plays games on Christmas Day.[36] Beginning in 2020, the NFL scheduled Christmas Day games annually as opposed to previous years when the league only scheduled games on Christmas whenever it falls on a weekend. This resulted in further ratings decline for the NBA during the holiday. For instance, in 2023, the NBA suffered a record-low average of 1.3 rating and 2.85 million viewership for all of its Christmas Day games whereas the NFL games averaged 27 million viewers.[37]


  1. ^ Nationally televised games only
  2. ^ a b Originally scheduled to air solely on ESPN before later announced to be simulcast across ESPN and ABC.


  1. ^ a b c d e Schuhmann, John (December 17, 2009). "Knicks, Kobe and more part of Christmas Day lore". Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Christmas: Three Wise Matchups". December 23, 2007. Archived from the original on September 8, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eisenberg, Jeff (December 24, 2009). "Christmas Tradition". The Riverside (Ca.) Press-Enterprise. p. B1.
  4. ^ a b c "Gasol sparks Lakers' late run to end Celtics' win streak". ESPN. Associated Press. December 25, 2008.
  5. ^ a b c d Beacham, Greg (December 25, 2010). "LeBron has triple-double, Heat rout Lakers". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  6. ^ Robinson, Joshua (December 24, 2010). "Agony and Ecstasy on Christmas Day; From a 62-Point Defeat in 1960 to Bernard King's 60 Points in 1984, the Knicks Have Seen It All". Wall Street Journal. p. A23.
  7. ^ De Guzman, Miguel (December 24, 2023). "Which NBA team has never played on Christmas Day?". Sportskeeda. Retrieved December 24, 2023.
  8. ^ "Celtics vs. Raptors - Game Summary - December 25, 2019 - ESPN". Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Extra Hype in This Round of James vs. Bryant". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 25, 2010. p. B12.
  10. ^ a b Nadel, John (December 26, 2008). "Lakers Claim Finals Rematch; Celtics' 19-Game Win Streak Snapped". Washington Post. p. E1. Thursday's victory was the 1,000th for Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, enabling him to become the sixth NBA coach to reach that milestone. The 63-year-old Jackson has a career record of 1,000–423 in 17-plus seasons as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Lakers. He became the fastest to win 1,000 games, surpassing Pat Riley, who did it in 1,434 games.
  11. ^ Irving, Kyle (December 25, 2022). "Most games played on Christmas: LeBron James to become NBA all-time leader and pass Kobe Bryant". The Sporting News. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c Garcia, Art (December 21, 2009). "Christmas Day clashes bring back fond memories". Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard (December 25, 2004). "ABC Treating O'Neal-Bryant Showdown As Showcase". New York Times. p. D1.
  15. ^ Adande, J.A. (December 25, 2004). "Hosannas or Humbug?; O'Neal hopes for Christmas cheer, but Laker fans may not be in mood". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  16. ^ Sandoval, Greg (December 26, 2004). "Shaq Serves Holiday Stuffing; In Rivals' Showdown, Bryant Has 42, But O'Neal Wins". Washington Post. p. E1.
  17. ^ "Lakers LeBron James passes Kobe Bryant to become NBA's all-time scoring Leader on Christmas". CBS Sports. December 26, 2021. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Mahoney, Brian (December 2, 2011). "Magic-Thunder, Clippers-Warriors set for Christmas". Associated Press. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  19. ^ a b c Greenstein, Teddy (December 25, 2010). "Bulls don't need a holiday break; Thibodeau, players proud to be chosen for marquee slot". Chicago Tribune. p. 2.1.
  20. ^ a b c d Beck, Howard (December 25, 2010). "Feeling Fuzzy About Holiday Slot". New York Times. p. B11. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  21. ^ Rosenbloom, Steve (November 29, 1998). "Selling Point". Chicago Tribune. p. 1. The NBA told NBC it has canceled the Bulls and the rest of the traditional Christmas doubleheader—Bulls-Knicks and Lakers-Suns.
  22. ^ DuPree, David (December 26, 1995). "Magic ground Rockets 92–90". USA Today. p. 1C.
  23. ^ Hoppes, Lynn (December 17, 2009). "Behind the scenes with Mariah Carey". ESPN.
  24. ^ a b c Mariah Carey NBA Christmas Special 2010 on YouTube
  25. ^ "ESPN, ABC to Simulcast Entire NBA Christmas Day, Schedule". Barrett Media. October 17, 2022. Retrieved January 19, 2023.
  26. ^ "ABC and Disney Parks Annual Holiday Specials 2022: See the Schedule". American Broadcasting Company. November 22, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  27. ^ "NBA Christmas Day 2022: Schedule, how to watch/stream games". ESPN. December 21, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  28. ^ "NBA announces schedule for 2023-24 season". National Basketball Association. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  29. ^ "CHRISTMAS DAY RECORDS (ACTIVE TEAMS)" (PDF). NBA Media Ventures, LLC. December 7, 2018. Retrieved December 25, 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Humbug: Magic's Van Gundy opposed to NBA on Christmas". Associated Press. December 25, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  31. ^ a b Forsberg, Chris (December 22, 2010). "Doc Rivers likes Christmas games". Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  32. ^ Finn, Chad (December 24, 2010). "Working holiday for NBA: Five games, but not all in the spirit". The Boston Globe. p. C2.
  33. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Tim (December 22, 2010). "Christmas games can be tough on those involved". Associated Press. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  34. ^ "Phil Jackson Complains That NBA Schedules Games on Christmas Day". Associated Press. December 22, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  35. ^ a b "Christmas Day rematch 'makes me sick'". ESPN. December 21, 2004. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  36. ^ "NFL's dominance of Christmas Day ratings is nothing new". Sports Media Watch. December 24, 2023. Retrieved April 3, 2024.
  37. ^ "NBA Christmas viewership sacked by NFL". Sports Media Watch. December 28, 2023. Retrieved April 2, 2024.