This is why we play … on Christmas Day
Kobe set for record 16th Christmas appearance; Warriors vs. Cavaliers in Finals rematch
NEW YORK – A time-honored holiday tradition continues this year when the NBA plays games on Christmas Day for the 68th time in league history. Five games will be televised in 215 countries in more than 40 languages on Friday (see schedule below), with more than 940 million fans also following the NBA on social media.
This year marks the record 16th and final Christmas Day appearance for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, as well as the first meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers since the 2015 Finals. In honor of Bryant’s finale, here are 16 numbers to watch on Christmas Day:
383 Bryant, one of six Kia NBA MVP winners preparing to play on Friday, is the NBA’s all-time Christmas Day leader with 383 points. Among active players, the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade is second to Bryant in games played (10) and scoring (258) on Christmas Day.
351 Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has played in 351 consecutive games, the NBA’s longest-active streak.
81.8 Miami has won 81.8 percent of its Christmas Day games (9-2 record), the second-best mark among active teams behind the Portland Trail Blazers’ 82.4 percent (14-3). With a victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, the Heat would pass Portland for the best winning percentage on Christmas Day and notch a Christmas win for the seventh year in a row.
42 Bryant’s highest-scoring game on Christmas Day was a 42-point performance in the Lakers’ 104-102 overtime loss to Shaquille O’Neal and the Heat in 2004.
38 Kia NBA Sixth Man Award winners Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs and Jason Terry of the Houston Rockets remain valuable contributors at 38. Ginobili and Terry are two of 10 active players drafted in the 1990s (both were selected in 1999), a list that includes the Lakers’ Bryant and Metta World Peace, the Spurs’ Tim Duncan and the Clippers’ Paul Pierce.
33 Thirty-three players from outside the U.S. representing 19 countries are on the rosters of teams playing Christmas Day. The Cavaliers and Spurs have the most international players (six each), while Australia is the country represented by the most players (five).
31.8 The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant is averaging 31.8 points in five games on Christmas Day, second to Jerry West (32.2 ppg) among players who have played at least five times.
17 Seventeen players who were NBA All-Stars last season are scheduled to be in action on Christmas Day, including 2015 All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City and reigning Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry of Golden State.
13 Thirteen of the 15 players selected to the 2014-15 All-NBA Teams are set to suit up on Dec. 25.
8 For the eighth consecutive year, the NBA will play five games on Christmas Day.
7 Warriors-Cavaliers (5 p.m. ET, ABC) marks the seventh time that the teams from the previous season’s Finals are meeting on Christmas Day the following season. The first time Finals foes met on the next Christmas Day was 20 years ago, 1995, when the Magic beat the Rockets 92-90.
6 ABC’s Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson will work their sixth Christmas Day game together when they call Warriors-Cavaliers.
4 Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Lakers coach Byron Scott each appeared in four Christmas Day games as players. Scott’s final Christmas Day game came with the Lakers in 1996, when he played alongside rookie Kobe Bryant.
3 The Warriors’ Curry has hit 131 three-pointers this season, 48 more than any other player. Curry, who broke his own NBA record with 286 triples last season, is on pace to make 397 this season.
2 Two forwards rank in the NBA’s top 12 in assists: Golden State’s Draymond Green (7.1 apg) and Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.4 apg). Green is on pace to join Larry Bird, Grant Hill and James as the only forwards to average at least seven assists for a season since the NBA/ABA merger.
1 The New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, a 2014-15 All-NBA First Team selection, is playing his first Christmas Day game. Davis is the only player who ranks in the NBA’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots this season.
NBA ON CHRISTMAS DAY
Game Time Network
New Orleans at Miami 12:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Chicago at Oklahoma City 2:30 p.m. ET ABC (ESPN Radio)
Cleveland at Golden State 5:00 p.m. ET ABC (ESPN Radio)
San Antonio at Houston 8:00 p.m. ET ESPN
L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers 10:30 p.m. ET ESPN