The NBA returns to ABC 25 with a Christmas doubleheader led by a Warriors-Cavaliers finals re-match.
With the NBA’s showcase Christmas Day games coming up Sunday, we take a by-the-numbers look at the rich history of the NBA on Christmas Day, from all-time statistical leaders to best single-game performances.
1. The NBA on Christmas Day tradition began in 1947, when the New York Knicks beat the Providence Steamrollers, 89-75, at the old Madison Square Garden.
2. After this year’s slate of games, the NBA will have played 242 games on Christmas Day.
3. This year will be the New York Knicks’ 51st Christmas Day appearance — the most of all time.
4. Kobe Bryant is the all-time leading scorer with 395 points, followed by Oscar Robertson (377), Dwyane Wade (277), Shaquille O’Neal (272) and LeBron James (270).
5. Ryan Anderson set the record for most single-game three-pointers made when he knocked down six against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2011.
6. Carmelo Anthony has averaged 34.3 points per game on Christmas Day, the highest mark among all players with at least four appearances, and Tracy McGrady leads all players (minimum of two games played) with a 43.3-point average in three games.
7. Oscar Robertson is the all-time assist leader (145), followed by Kobe Bryant (85) and LeBron James (72).
8. Russell Westbrook tied the record for most steals in a game (6) last year against the Chicago Bulls.
9. Hall of Fame forward Bernard King set the single-game scoring record when he dropped 60 points against the New Jersey Nets in 1984. Kevin Durant (44 points in 2010) is the active leader.
10. This year will mark the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first Christmas Day appearance.
11. Thirty-seven players from outside the U.S. representing 22 countries are on the rosters of teams playing on Christmas Day this year.
12. Guy Rodgers and Nate “Tiny” Archibald are tied for the most assists in a single-game with 18, recorded in 1966 and 1972, respectively.
13. Scottie Pippen has the most steals in Christmas Day history (24 in seven games), followed by Russell Westbrook (20 in six games) and Dwyane Wade (19 in 11 games).
14. The Oklahoma City Thunder (4-13; 23.5%) have the worst Christmas Day winning percentage of teams that have played more than five games.
15. Starting with a game against the Phoenix Suns during his rookie season and ending with last year’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Kobe Bryant played the most Christmas Day games in NBA history (16) over the course of his 20-year career. Dwyane Wade leads all active players (11), followed by Udonis Haslem and LeBron James (10).
16. Wilt Chamberlain grabbed 36 rebounds in 1961 against the New York Knicks, setting a Christmas Day record that still stands.
17. DeAndre Jordan broke Elvin Hayes’ 31-year-old record when he blocked eight shots against the Golden State Warriors in 2011.
18. Bill Russell is the all-time leader in Christmas Day rebounds with 176 in eight games.
19. The winners of the past eight NBA MVP Awards and the previous nine scoring titles are scheduled to play in this year’s games.
20. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Patrick Ewing hitting a buzzer beater to give the New York Knicks an 86-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls in what was one of the NBA’s most memorable Christmas Day games.
21. This is the ninth consecutive year that the NBA will play five games on Christmas Day.
22. Shaquille O’Neal blocked 25 shots in 13 Christmas Day games — the most of all-time. Among active players, DeAndre Jordan (five games) and Dwight Howard (seven games) are third and fourth on the list with 19 and 18 blocks, respectively.
23. Five players — Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Billy Cunningham, John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson — have recorded a triple-double on Christmas Day.
24. The lockout-shortened 2011 NBA season opened on Christmas Day, starting with a game between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
25. The Miami Heat (10-2; 83.3%) have the best Christmas Day winning percentage.
All information courtesy of the NBA. Follow AJ Neuharth-Keusch on Twitter @tweetAJNK