The first NBA game played on December 25 came in 1947, a year after the NBA’s Beginning, when the New York Knicks Defeat the Providence Steamrollers in Madison Square Garden 89–75.
Since that time, the NBA has played games every year on Christmas Day except in 1998 (if a lockout canceled half of the 1998–99 season). In contrast, Major League Baseball is at its own off-season throughout Christmas, the National Football League only programs Christmas games when Christmas falls on the weekend (and even then just programs games on Christmas sometimes ) and the National Hockey League’s collective bargaining agreement forbids playing matches on Christmas Day (and, except if it falls on a Saturday, Christmas Eve as well). In college football, the only bowl game traditionally scheduled for Christmas has been the defunct Aloha Bowl (and also for a single year, its replacement, the Hawaii Bowl). The NBA is the only league.
In the early days, regional proximity dictated most of the matchups. Teams would perform their geographical competitions to allow them to have additional time with their families and to decrease holiday travel. According to Dr. Jack Ramsay, who coached the Portland Trail Blazers from 1976–77 (their sole tournament season) into 1986,”Christmas meant being at home with all the family and having a game we always won. That was a great Christmas for me personally.” He also set the record for most coaching victories on Christmas Day with 11, an achievement that Phil Jackson later matched in 2008.
From the early 1980s, the New York Knicks put three years in a row. In one match (1984), hall-of-fame forward Bernard King scoring 60 points–the most ever scored by a player on Christmas Day, Together with the dawn of television and the excitement brought on by these games, the NBA decided to scheduled matches over the holiday which showcased the best players and teams.
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