Just like soccer on Thanksgiving Day, watching basketball on Christmas Day is a tradition. The NBA makes these games special for their fans by combining the best and most legendary franchises in the league, pitting the game’s brightest stars against each other when most people are off.
Past Christmas Day clashes have offered their share of drama, pairing teams with a superstar who has already played for their opponents on match day. For example, LeBron James – who won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat – chose to re-sign with his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, ahead of the 2014-15 season. James and the Cavaliers faced the Heat on Christmas Day in the 2014-15 season, falling to Miami 101-91. Although James and his team lost, his holiday-inspired Nike LeBron 12 sneakers have been a winner on the court.
NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal was in a similar situation in 2004, facing his former team Los Angeles Lakers for the first time while playing for the Miami Heat. Wearing the Dunkman silhouette of his namesake line, O’Neal dropped 24 points on his former team, adding 11 rebounds to his stat line.
However, the drama of players competing against their former teams is just one scenario the league has historically followed for Christmas Day clashes.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have appeared in back-to-back all-time classics against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. On Christmas Day in the 2015-16 season, in a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals, the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 89-83 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Brands such as Under Armor, Nike and Anta have come up with vacation-inspired looks. that sneakerheads would have liked to see at home under their Christmas trees.
The following season, James and the Cavaliers – the reigning NBA champions – would beat Curry and the Warriors 109-108. At the feet, James had laced his Nike LeBron 14 and Curry rocked his Under Armor Curry 3.
Some recent years have been more successful than others. In 2019, for example, there were several eye-catching kicks including the Nike LeBron 7 “China Moon” worn by James, the pair of Under Armor UA Hovr Havoc 2 by Joel Embiid, the New Balance “Money Stacks” OMN1S laced. by Kawhi Leonard, the Nike Zoom Freak 1 “Soul Glo” worn by Giannis Antetokounmpo and many others.
Other highlight of the NBA Christmas Day action included kicks from gaming legends including Kobe Bryant (Nike Kobe 6 “Grinch”), James (Kith x Nike LeBron 15 “Rose Gold”), Curry (Under Armor Curry 2 “Northern Lights”), Kyrie Irving (Nike Kyrie 2 “Christmas”), Klay Thompson (Anta KT2 “Christmas”) and others.
Click through the gallery for other best NBA Christmas Day moments.