Things to know for the NBA’s annual Christmas bonanza
Christmas has arrived, which means holiday shopping lists can hopefully be put away for another year.
So here’s a new list: Some of the things to know on this Christmas in the NBA, when five games — all of them televised nationally and beyond — will be on the holiday menu.
The last five NBA MVPs will be on the court this Christmas: James Harden (2018) and Russell Westbrook (2017) will square off when Houston meets Oklahoma City, while Stephen Curry (2016, 2015), Kevin Durant (2014) and LeBron James (2013, 2012) will be on the floor when Golden State plays host to the Los Angeles Lakers.
At least 13 players who appeared in last season’s All-Star Game are expected to be playing in Tuesday’s games. Voting for this season’s NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte also begins Tuesday morning.
There have been nine triple-doubles on Dec. 25, including Draymond Green’s 12-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist effort last season for Golden State against Cleveland.
The others: Oscar Robertson had four (1960, 1961, 1963 and 1967), and John Havlicek (1967), Billy Cunningham (1970), LeBron James (2010) and Russell Westbrook (2013) all have posted one.
The first double-double posted on Tuesday will be the 400th on Dec. 25 in NBA history. No one has more of those than Shaquille O’Neal, who had 10 in his career.
Kobe Bryant has the records for Christmas Day points (395), appearances (16) and losses (10).
No one has played in more Christmas wins than Dwyane Wade (10), followed by his Miami teammate Udonis Haslem and former New York and Phoenix guard Dick Van Arsdale with nine apiece. If the Lakers beat Golden State, LeBron James would join them in the nine-win club.
Among active players who will be in action Tuesday, James has far and away the most points on Christmas. He has 321, well ahead of Kevin Durant (249), Russell Westbrook (190) and James Harden (143).
Among coaches, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra is 7-0 on Christmas, as is Hall of Famer Les Harrison — who spent seven years as an NBA coach, all with Rochester, and won on Dec. 25 in each of those seasons. Harrison died in 1997, two days before Christmas.
Dr. Jack Ramsay — one of Spoelstra’s idols — and Phil Jackson each have the total wins record for coaches, with 11. Ramsay was 11-3, Jackson was 11-7.
As many as 38 players born outside of the United States, from as many as 20 countries, are on the rosters of the 10 teams taking part in the NBA’s Christmas games this season.
Utah has six international players, more than any of the 10 clubs.
So in addition to saying “Merry Christmas,” feel free to drop “Feliz Navidad,” ″Frohe Weinachten,” ″Kala Christougena” and “Joyeux Noel” when watching the games Tuesday.
Houston’s Eric Gordon should be getting plenty of presents Tuesday. Not only is it Christmas, but it’s also the 30th birthday for the Rockets guard.
NO (HOLI)DAYS OFF
There’s no holiday pay for NBA players, which five teams are likely lamenting.
Portland, Utah, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and New York not only have to work on Christmas this year — but they’re also all part of the NBA’s five-game slate on New Year’s Day this season.
Speaking of no overtime, don’t expect the Christmas games to go deeper than 48 minutes, either. The only game since 2004 to need an overtime was Miami’s win over New Orleans in 2015.
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