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NBA’s Greatest Christmas Games: Jordan, LeBron, Tmac, Kobe & More

Published on December 14th, 2011 by Astramskas, David | 7,055 views

Everybody loves the NBA on Christmas…well everybody but the NBA players and their families that have to be apart.   A few coaches have tried to brainwash the players into thinking they should be grateful they are playing on Christmas instead of drinking egg nog & opening up presents with their wife and kids.

Doc Rivers said, “As a kid, you wanted to be on Christmas…I tend to look at it as a reward.”

Mike D’Antoni said that players should be “very fortunate” to be playing on Christmas Day and that “it helps the league, and…it helps other people on Christmas or on the holidays.”
Although I agree that it does help the league (Christmas games have some of the highest ratings for a regular season game and in the past few years have increased each year) and the millions of fans watching TV at home which in return helps these players get millions of dollars each year, I still don’t have an issue with players having an issue with playing these games.

Phil Jackson is one of the coaches that has been vocal against the games.
“I don’t think anybody should play on Christmas Day,” Jackson said. “Soccer teams don’t play this time of year, they take a break. I don’t understand it.”

“When I was in the CBA, we had a commissioner who had a Christmas Eve game. I had to call him up and say that’s the holy time. … You just have to keep reminding them that this is a special day.”

“I don’t know if you can adequately even prepare for these games,” Jackson said. “You don’t have a walk-through on the day of the game. It’s just a difficult game. … Your little kids are putting batteries in toys to put their Christmas presents together, there’s all kinds of crazy stuff going on and now your head’s got to get focused on a game in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Day? That game is just real hard to measure how to bring focus to it.”

The Ex Laker coach had his share of games being the coach of a Bulls & Laker dynasty.  In the 90s, the most common Christmas game was the Bulls against the Knicks.  The Knicks have played the most Christmas games ever but have only won 21 of the their 46 games.  In the past decade, watching Kobe and the Lakers has become the norm.  Kobe Bryant has played in 13 Christmas games and more times on December 25th than any other calendar date. Considering the Lakers are 4-8 on Christmas since 1999 I can see another reason why Phil Jackson is upset.

LeBron James isn’t happy either as he has also become a part of our Christmas routine.
“If you ask any player in the league, we’d rather be home with our families…It’s definitely one of those days that you wish you could wake up in the morning with the kids and open up presents.
LeBron’s frustration is a bad thing for the opposing team as he has had some memorable moments on Christmas day including a 27point, 11 rebound, 10assist game with 5 three pointers in a 96-80 win over Kobe & the Lakers in 2010.

One big irony is that the NBA seems to like to put up controversial games between two teams that have drama with each other on Christmas day.  In 2004 the NBA also showed the Pistons and Pacers a year after the infamous brawl.  Did anybody watch that game because they really wanted to watch those two teams play each other or did we watch it because we wanted to see if any players would get into another fight.  The NBA likes to showcase rivalries but would you say the three years (2004-2006) after Shaq was traded to the Heat that the Heat and Lakers had a rivalry or would you say the reason why the NBA & ABC showed the Heat/Lakers game for three straight years is just so they could push the Kobe & Shaq beef.

Shaq said it best when he said the NBA stands for “Nothing But Actors” and David Stern is running the giant money making machine/studio and ABC, ESPN, TNT are the film distribution outlets that millions of us will tune into on Christmas day with open arms.  With that said, let’s get back into the Christmas spirit, take a look back at some memorable Christmas games & moments and get ready to watch more Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on Christmas day.  If you really want to get into the spirit you can upload your face to this LeBron James Ugly Christmas Sweater Facebook App, print it and then put it next to your Christmas tree.

Also be on the lookout for Kevin Durant’s gift from Santa/Nike to wear against the Magic

1978: 20 years before Kobe played on Christmas, his father Jellybean Bryant was on the floor for a dunkathon with Dr J & Chocolate Thunder.

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1983: Magic sits out & Kareem & the Lakers lose 141 to 121 to the Blazers w/ a rookie Clyde Drexler (full game)

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1984: Knick’s Bernard King scores 60 points including 40 in the first half.

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1985: Patrick Ewing helps the Knicks comeback from 25 points down to beat the Boston Celtics

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1986: Patrick Ewing plays Santa for the 2nd year in a row for the Knicks as he hits the game winner against MJ and the Bulls

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1992: MJ scores 42 points against rival NY.  They played a 7 game series the year before in the playoffs.

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1997:  MJ’s Bulls & Dennis Rodman (11pts, 22rebs, 7ast) too much for Grant Hill & Pistons

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1999: Shaq (28pts) vs Duncan (32pts) in Lakers Win

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2000: Rasheed Wallaces drops 33pts and 13rebs in a win over the Lakers

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2000: New Orlando Magic Tracy McGrady scores 43 in a loss against the Pacers

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2003: Tmac (41pts, 11ast) & rookie LeBron (34pts) duel as Magic Beat Cavs

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2004: Shaq returns to LA as a Miami Heat. Kobe scores 42 in loss (60 mins)

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2007: Kobe scores 38 & dishes 7 assist against the Suns

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2008: Lakers Payback Against the Celtics. 1st meeting since the Celtics beat them 131-92 in gm6 of the finals.

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2009: LeBron & Shaq Get the win over Kobe (35pts) & the Lakers

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2010: LeBron triple double in win against Kobe and the Lakers

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