NBA: Ranking the 12 best Christmas Day performances in history

Some of the most memorable regular-season moments in the NBA have taken place on Christmas Day. Let's take a look back at some of the best.

New Orleans Pelicans v Orlando Magic
New Orleans Pelicans v Orlando Magic / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages
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The NBA of Christmas Day has become a tradition unlike any other. We'll take a look back at 12 of the best Christmas Day performances.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it including the decorations, Christmas cookies (with extra frosting), the gifts, the music (some of it), and that it’s fashionable to be a fat old guy with a big white beard in a red suit. It also means a day of great NBA basketball.

I loved the NBA on NBC growing up in the 90s. Santa Claus and Marv Albert were always guaranteed to be working on Christmas Day.

Seeing an NBA on NBC Christmas Day commercial advertising that year’s matchups was like opening another present. NBC always produced dramatic promos featuring each team’s stars. I occasionally go down the YouTube rabbit hole to watch old NBA on NBC highlights. Plus, who didn’t like John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock?” That track will always be associated with NBA Basketball.

ESPN and ABC took over televising Christmas Day NBA games in 2002. TNT occasionally has a game or two on Christmas. That’s entertaining thanks to the “Inside the NBA” crew but it’s just not the same. There was that cool “Jingle Hoops” commercial back in 2013 though.

There have been many memorable performances on Christmas Day. The stars know they are playing in front of a national audience and come out ready to play. I’ve put together a list of the best all-time NBA individual performances on Christmas Day. Let me take you through them.

There wasn’t a shortage of all-time great NBA Christmas Day performances to choose from. There were some notable names and legendary performances that did NOT make my top 10:

  • Charles Barkley (1993): “Sir Charles” 38 points, 18 rebounds, and four assists in 47 minutes led the Suns to a 111-91 victory against the future 1993-94 NBA Champion Houston Rockets
  • Dominique Wilkins (1987): “The Human Highlight Film” put up 45 points and grabbed 9 boards to lead the Hawks over the Philadelphia 76ers.
  • Oscar Robertson (1962): The “Big O” had a triple-double – 39 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists, but his Cincinnati Royals fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 141-127.
  • Kawhi Leonard (2019): Leonhard led the new-look Clippers on both ends of the floor contributing an efficient 35 points (on 11-19 shooting), 13 boards, and 5 assists while holding the Lakers’ LeBron James to an inefficient night – 23 points on 9-24 shooting, including 2-12 from downtown.

In honor of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” here are my top 12 best individual performances on Christmas Day in NBA history.