For the first time since their debut NBA season in 1968, the Bucks will host a Christmas Day game. For the 22nd year in a row, the Lakers will play on Christmas Day. They have the most wins on Christmas Day all-time, with 23. For the first time since 2011, the Mavericks will play on Christmas Day. It's their fourth Christmas Day game overall and third straight year playing on Christmas Day.
The Celtics have played on Christmas Day three times, winning them all: 1934, 1936, and 1937. The Lakers and Celtics are the only two teams to have won Christmas Day games in each of its first three years. The Knicks have played on Christmas Day twice - 1977 and 1978 - both losses. The Sixers, Hawks, Kings, and Nuggets have also played on Christmas Day once each.
Christmas Day games were originally played as part of a four-team series between Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington. In 1934, the first Christmas Day game was played at Boston Arena before a crowd of 10,099 fans. The Celtics defeated the Lakers 113-106. Since then, every Christmas Day game has been played at home team's arena.
In addition to these 24 teams, there have been 26 other teams that have played on Christmas Day during their NBA history. The ABA started in 1970 and disbanded in 1976. No ABA team played on Christmas Day during its existence.
Kobe Bryant (left) has appeared in the most Christmas Day games of any player. He's played twice against LeBron James (center) and five years with Shaquille O'Neal (right), but just once against him. Overall, Bryant is 8-for-8 playing against other members of the Los Angeles Lakers team he led to six championships.
Bryant joined the Lakers in 1996 and has been a part of three Christmas Day games against the Knicks/Jazz, Ravens/Giants, and Cavaliers/Spurs. He scored 38 points against New York in 2004 when the Lakers lost by one point. Two seasons later, he had 39 points while taking over for an injured Michael Jordan in a loss to Utah.
The only other player to appear in more than one Christmas Day game is Jerry West, who did so four times. The last time was in 1972 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers team that lost to Boston 125-120 in overtime.
West finished with 36 points that day. Other notable players who have appeared in two Christmas Day games include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Tim Duncan.
After playing on Christmas Day three times, Charles Barkley decided it wasn't for him anymore.
Every Christmas, ABC/ESPN broadcasts five NBA games, and 2020 was no exception. The NBA confirmed that the 72-game regular season would be cut short on May 16. As a result, the 72 games would be played over the course of 145 days. As a result, each team would play a game every other night on average. The only nights off would be Monday Night Football games and Memorial Day weekend.
The abbreviated schedule was necessary because the coronavirus pandemic has forced many events to be canceled or postponed. The most recent example is the New York Knicks' home opener against the Brooklyn Nets on October 17. It has been rescheduled for November 23 at Madison Square Garden because there is no other option. In addition, the entire season could be lost if there are not enough healthy players by then.
The current season was expected to begin on October 17 after the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. However, it was announced on April 29 that the start of the season had been pushed back one week to October 24 due to concerns about COVID-19. This does not mean that the season will end later than June 10; it's just that we won't be able to see all the games as originally planned.
The NBA has not announced any changes to its regular season schedule since the beginning of March when it was reported that some teams were trying to push back their opening games.
The NBA Christmas schedule for 2020
|Warriors vs. Bucks||2:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Nets vs. Celtics||5 p.m.||ABC|
|Mavericks vs. Lakers||8 p.m.||ABC/ESPN|
|Clippers vs. Nuggets||10:30 p.m.||ESPN|
The 2020-21 NBA season will begin on December 22nd, leaving an interesting Christmas Day schedule loaded with early-season clashes amongst the league's heavyweight clubs. Games begin at 12 p.m. and continue until 10:30 p.m., in case you needed anything else to do that day.
Christmas Day has become a regular game day throughout most of the season due to national television contracts. The only time it was not played was during the first three seasons of the ABA/NBA merger when 24 teams were divided into two eight-team leagues. That problem was solved when all 30 teams agreed to play on December 25th in 1974-75 (the same day as NHL games).
There have been some attempts to move some or all of these games to different days this year, but none of them appear likely to come to pass.
The National Football League has played on Christmas Day 14 times since the 1971 season. Since 1971, the Dallas Cowboys have played the most games on Christmas Day, five. The Pittsburgh Steelers are second with two appearances.
Christmas Day games were not played from 1934-41 and 1946-71 because there was no NFL championship series at that time. From 1932-34, the league's four teams held a post-season tournament called the "Bank of America Trophy Game". The winner went to New York for the right to play Columbia in the first NFL Championship Game. In 1935, all games were canceled due to labor disputes between players and owners. They did not resume until 1939. There were no Christmas Day games during World War II.
The Cowboys joined the NFL in 1950. Their first Christmas Day game came against the Chicago Bears. It was a Thursday night game at Texas Stadium in Arlington. The Cowboys lost 10-3. Troy Aikman had his first career start that night and he led the team in scoring for the next three years. In 1953, they had a Monday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles. That is when I became a fan of the game!
Since then, Christmas Day games have become a popular event with fans. The league does not cancel any regular season games because of weather conditions or other emergencies.