Which NBA Team Has Played the Most Games on Christmas Day?

NBA games have become as much a part of Christmas Day tradition as sitting around the tree and opening up presents. But how did this tradition come about? And what team has participated the most? We answer those questions here.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

When did the NBA start scheduling games on Christmas Day?

The first ever NBA game to be scheduled on Christmas was during the 1947 season, just one year after the league was created. It was a contest between the New York Knicks over the Providence Steam Rollers at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks took that game 89-75. The NBA has held games on that day every year since, excluding the Christmas Day in 1998 when the league was in the midst of a lockout.

The Christmas Day matchups used to be held between division rivals so travel wasn’t an issue. However, that has changed over the years. (How many times have the Warriors and the Cavaliers played each other on Christmas Day now?)

Patrick Ewing | Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

What are some of the best Christmas Day games?

Fox Sports does a good job ranking some of the most memorable Christmas Day contests, from Shaq’s first December 25 game to LeBron’s return to Miami after rejoining the Cavs. (Which seems like a whole other lifetime ago, doesn’t it?)

But perhaps the most memorable tilt took place on Christmas Day 1985 when the Knicks and Celtics went into overtime. New York overcame a 25-point deficit ended up taking that game 113-104 in double overtime. Then-rookie Patrick Ewing leading all players with 32 points, even topping Larry Bird.

Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Carmello Anthony of the Knicks | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Which team has played the most Christmas Day games?

Not surprisingly — since they did play the first-ever game on December 25th — the Knicks have played in the most Christmas Day games. They also have the most wins and losses of any team on Christmas Day. Kobe Bryant holds the record for most Christmas Day NBA games played (16) while Doc Rivers and Phil Jackson remain the only two NBA figureheads to have participated in Christmas Day games as both players and as coaches.

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