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Ranking the Top 10 NBA Christmas Day Performances


Wake up everyone, it's Christmas!

As the Christmas Day games approach, it’s time to scour through the archives and look back at some of the greatest Christmas day performances in the NBA to date.

The number of appearances on this list will be restricted to one per player.

Honorable Mentions

Rick Barry (1966): 50 points, 6 Rebounds (19-39 shooting)

Trailing by 1 point entering the fourth quarter, the San Francisco Warriors tallied a 42-point final quarter to see off the Cincinnati Royals. Many people would place this game on the list but it just misses out due to the number of shots needed to get to that half-century mark. Rick Barry averaged 35.6ppg throughout the season.

Michael Jordan (1992): 42 Points, 8 Rebounds, 5 Assists and 3 Steals (15-34 shooting)

Michael Jordan and the Bulls faced off against their Eastern Conference rivals in Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. The Knicks held a healthy double-digit lead going into the second half but Jordan exploded for 42 points to take the game away from New York. His lower-than-usual efficiency just keeps him off the list.

10. Charles Barkley (1993): 38 Points and 18 Rebounds (15-27 shooting)

The reigning MVP showed that he was still at the top of his game with a dominating performance against the Rockets as the Phoenix Suns romped home comfortably, despite Olajuwon’s 27 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists.

9. Scottie Pippen (1994): 36 Points, 16 Rebounds, 5 Steals and 2 Blocks (11-28 Shooting)

There are more efficient and more statistically dominant performances that didn’t make this list but a few things set this performance by Scottie Pippen apart.

With Michael Jordan playing baseball, it was Scottie who was leading from the front. Having lost to the Knicks in the playoffs last season, Pippen and the Bulls exacted revenge in a game that went to overtime after a miracle three by Hubert Davis.

Scottie Pippen held his calm by scoring all 7 points for the Bulls in overtime. He had two important blocks on three-point attempts, as the Knicks looked to tie, giving the Bulls a three-point win. Pippen played all 53 minutes of the game.

8. Dominique Wilkins (1987): 45 Points, 9 Rebounds and 3 Assists (17-28 Shooting)

The Human Highlight Film was on full display on Christmas in 1987 as Dominique poured in 45 points on Charles Barkley and the 76ers. The 76ers were in their first season since the retirement of Julius Erving and had no answer for Dominique as he willed the Hawks to a 6-point victory with an extremely efficient all-around scoring display.

7. LeBron James (2011): 37 Points, 10 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 2 Steals and 2 Blocks (11-19 Shooting)

Many LeBron James performances could’ve made this list like his triple-double against the Lakers but this revenge game seems to stand out. With last season’s loss in the finals still fresh in the memory of LeBron and the Heat, LeBron showed that he was still a force to be reckoned with. In just 36 minutes, LeBron dismantled the Mavericks with the help of Dwayne Wade’s 26 points as the Heat took a 32-point lead heading into the fourth quarter before closing it out.

6. Kevin Durant (2010): 44 Points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Steals and 2 Blocks (14-20 Shooting and 4-7 3P)

At just 22 years of age, Kevin Durant had a monstrous performance against the Nuggets. Not only did he put up great numbers but he did so on a superbly efficient 70% from the field.

Going into the second half trailing by 2, Durant scored 21 in the third quarter to help the Thunder cross the finishing line.

5. Oscar Robertson (1963): 37 Points, 16 Assists and 15 Rebounds (12-24 Shooting)

In a season where “The Big O” averaged 31.4 points, 11 assists and 9.9 rebounds per game, Oscar Robertson had an amazing performance on Christmas. Coming up against Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, and the Hawks, Oscar Robertson handed the Royals a 6-point victory with a supreme show of a player at the height of their powers.

4. Tracy McGrady (2003): 41 Points, 11 Assists, 8 Rebounds and 3 Steals (15-29 Shooting and 5-9 3P)

T-Mac’s performance in 2002 could just as easily have made its way on this list in place of this one but this performance in his duel with a rookie LeBron James displays a greater overall dominance. T-Mac was at his peak here, in a game that went into overtime, as fans witnessed an amazing duel between two of the game’s most exciting players. T-Mac came out on top, however, pulling off some mind-blowing shots throughout to grant the Magic the victory.

3. Wilt Chamberlain (1961): 59 Points and 36 Rebounds

Whatever era a stat-line of 59 points and 36 rebounds is scored in, it is clear that it must have been a very special performance. Chamberlain’s 36 rebounds are still a Christmas record to this day and his 59 points are just one shy of the Christmas record as well. The Philadelphia Warriors still ended up losing to the Knicks in double OT but Wilt’s stat-line is something that may never be seen again.

2. Dwayne Wade (2006): 40 Points, 11 Assists, 4 Rebounds, 4 Steals and 4 Blocks (12-20 Shooting)

Dwayne Wade tore the Lakers apart with a stunning display of all-around dominance as he stuffed the stat sheet. Wade consistently slithered around and past the defense of Kobe before throwing a nifty pass to one of his teammates or rising up for a shot and his omnipresence was otherworldly. Kobe Bryant was also held to just 4-17 from the field by Wade and the rest of the Heat as they easily blew past the Lakers.

1. Bernard King (1984): 60 Points, 7 Rebounds and 4 Assists (19-30 Shooting and 22-26 FT)

Bernard King was lighting it up as he dropped a Christmas-high 60 points against the Nets in possibly the most memorable Christmas performance of all time. In the first half alone, King registered 40 points yet, in spite of his heroics, the Knicks still ended up losing the game. But King’s 60 points will always be the lasting memory from that game and the atmosphere in the crowd showed that something really special had just taken place.