Wednesday, December 25, 2013
NBA Christmas Special
Most fans of basketball do one thing on Christmas, sit down and watch the NBA games being aired that day. With such a special day upon us I wanted to go back and look into the history on the NBA playing on Christmas Day.
HISTORY OF NBA ON CHRISTMAS
The first NBA games 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.
In the early days, regional proximity dictated most of the matchups on Christmas Day. Teams would usually play their geographical rivals to cut down on holiday travel and allow them to have more time with their families.
According to Dr. Jack Ramsay, coach of the Portland Trail Blazers from their only championship season of 1976–77 to 1986: "Christmas meant being at home with the family and having a game we always won. That was a perfect Christmas to me.”
Dr. Jack Ramsay has the most coaching victories on Christmas Day, with 11, a record that Phil Jackson tied in 2008.
In the early 1980s, after three straight years of memorable moments involving the New York Knicks, including Bernard King scoring 60 points in 1984, the most ever scored by a player on Christmas Day, and with the advent of television, the NBA scheduled games over the holiday as a showcase featuring the best teams and players.
The Knicks have played the most games on Christmas Day, with 47, and are 22–25 on the holiday. The Knicks' 22 wins are the most by a team on Christmas Day.
Doc Rivers participated as a player with the Knicks in 1992 and as a coach with the Boston Celtics since 2008. Bryant has played 14 games on Christmas Day, the most of any player and more than he has on any other date on the calendar, playing his first in 1996, and most recently in 2011.
Many teams and players that have played on this day have worn special uniforms and sneakers. Since 2009, the Knicks wear their third jersey, the green/orange alternate which they first used exclusively for St. Patrick's Day since the 2005–06 season. During the game between the Heat and the Lakers in 2010, players on both teams wore holiday sneakers, including lime-green Nike kicks on Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. LeBron James and Chris Bosh wore holiday-red shoes with garish green laces.
Since the 2008–09 season, teams playing on Christmas Day wear a patch featuring the NBA logo inside a snowflake. For the 2012–13 season games, special edition monochrome uniforms will be used. The uniforms, colloquially known as "Big Color", was designed by Adidas.
This year the NBA will be wearing the new sleeved jerseys made by Adidas, the Adi-zero jersey's which the Warriors debuted last year.
The NBA playing on Christmas Day has featured some of the most memorable games ever played, including Bernard King scoring 60 points for the New York Knicks in 1984, Patrick Ewing helping the Knicks come back to beat the Boston Celtics after trailing by 25 points in 1985, and again beating Michael Jordan and the Bulls on last second jumper in 1986, Scottie Pippen's last second block in 1994, the first showdown featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal as opponents in 2004, Phil Jackson becoming the fastest coach to win 1,000 games in 2008, showdowns between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in 2009 and 2010, and the opening of the 2011–12 season as a result of a lockout.
Rivalries have also been showcased during games played on this day. During the 1990s, each Christmas featured a game involving either the New York Knicks or the Chicago Bulls, with both teams playing against each other in both the Bulls championship season of 1992–93 and 1994, and would have played each other in 1998, if there had not been a lockout.
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.
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 the two teams playing on the holiday in 2002 and every year since 2008 and facing off against each other during the first of the Lakers' most recent back-to-back championship seasons of 2008–09, the first meeting between the two teams since that year's finals.
Today the Christmas NBA scene is set with five games this year starting at 9 a.m. with the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets. The second game of the day features the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers. The third game features the two teams returning from last years NBA Finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder face off in Miami against the Heat. The fourth game sees the Houston Rockets take on the Chicago Bulls. With the 2012 NBA Christmas Day finale being set up between the Clippers and Nuggets.
I hope everyone enjoys their holiday and watches some NBA hoops, which could be historical.