The NBA's Best Christmas Day Performances
Wilt Chamberlain (1961)
Wilt holds numerous NBA records so the distinction of the most rebounds on Christmas Day may only be a footnote in his NBA career. Nevertheless, Chamberlain's 59 points and 36 rebounds against the Knicks are otherworldly, regardless of the era.
Bill Russell (1965)
Throughout their careers Wilt and Russell jockeyed for big-man supremacy. Russell was no doubt disappointed then when on Christmas Day he fell two rebounds shy — 34 — of Wilt's Christmas Day rebounding record. Of small consolation to Russell was the Celtics' 113-99 victory over the Baltimore Bullets.
Rick Barry (1966)
Sometimes remembered more for his unorthodox free-throw shooting than his prolific scoring, Rick Barry led the NBA with 35.6 ppg during the 1966-67 season. On Christmas Day, Barry surpassed his average, pouring in 50 points against the Cincinnati Royals.
Nate Archibald (1972)
The season Nate "Tiny" Archibald led the league in scoring and assists — an accomplishment no other NBA player has matched — he dished out an NBA-record 18 assists on Christmas Day against the Bucks.
Bernard King (1984)
Standing 6-foot-7, Bernard King always played larger than life. No game was a better example of this than Christmas Day. King scored a Christmas Day-record 61 points, but his Knicks fell to the Nets 120-114.
Dominique Wilkins (1987)
Overall, 1987 was a disappointing year for Wilkins. He finished second to Michael Jordan in the NBA scoring title and the Slam Dunk Contest. But on Christmas Day, Wilkins was second to none. In the Hawks' 106-100 victory over the 76ers, Wilkins finished with 45 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
Michael Jordan (1992)
After the 1992-93 NBA season, Jordan turned in his Bulls jersey for a batting helmet and a pair of cleats. But before he broke Chicago's heart, he gave them one hell of a Christmas gift. Facing the Knicks, Jordan went off for 42 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in the Bulls' 89-77 victory.
Charles Barkley (1993)
After winning the MVP award during the 1992-93 season, Barkley declared that the 1993-94 season would be his last, blaming a back injury. Despite the injury, Barkley went out and dominated the Rockets on Christmas Day, besting Hakeem Olajuwon with 38 points, 18 rebounds and four assists during the Suns' 111-91 victory.
Scottie Pippen (1994)
After losing to the Knicks in the 1994 Eastern conference semifinals, Scottie Pippen and the Bulls were out for revenge on Christmas Day. Pippen dominated the Knicks with 36 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and all seven of the Bulls' points in overtime, as the Bulls defeated the Knicks 107-104.
Tracy McGrady (2002)
As late as Christmas Eve, Tracy McGrady's status for the Magic-Pistons game was in doubt. But come Christmas Day, it hurt McGrady more to watch from the bench than to play. Hobbled, he burned the Pistons for 46 points, six rebounds and three steals in the Magic's 104-99 victory.
Dwyane Wade (2006)
Lakers-Heat on Christmas Day was expected to be a one-on-one battle between Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Bryant missed the memo apparently, as Wade exploded for 40 points, 11 assists, four steals and four blocks in the Heat's 101-85 victory. Bryant was held to 16 points, one over his season-low.
LeBron James (2010)
In his first trip to Staples Center as a member of the Heat, LeBron James led his new team to a 96-80 thrashing of the two-time defending champions on Christmas Day. The King notched his third triple-double with Miami and the 31st of his career (27 points, 11, rebounds and 10 assists) while hitting a season-high five three-pointers. Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, was held to just 17 points L.A.'s loss.