Five NBA MVPs highlight 71st edition of NBA on X’mas

OAKLAND, CA – DECEMBER 25: Santa Claus takes a picture before the Los Angeles Clippers plays the Golden State Warriors on December 25, 2013 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK – A holiday tradition continues this year as the NBA will play games on Christmas Day for the 71st time. The league’s Dec. 25 schedule will feature five games for the 11th consecutive season, with the matchups reaching fans in 215 countries and territories through 49 international broadcast partners.

The NBA on Christmas Day will tip off with the Milwaukee Bucks making their first Christmas appearance since 1977 when they visit the New York Knicks at 1am. That will be followed by the Houston Rockets hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder as reigning Kia NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden and 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook go head-to-head at 4am. The action will continue with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers renewing their storied rivalry at 6:30am at TD Garden.

Next, it’s the matchup between the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers at 9am at Oracle Arena, with four-time MVP LeBron James facing the Warriors as a Laker for the first time in the regular season. The five-game schedule will conclude with the Utah Jazz’s first Christmas Day appearance in 21 years as it hosts the Portland Trail Blazers at 11:30am.

Below are some numbers highlighting the NBA on Christmas Day.

395 – Kobe Bryant is the all-time Christmas Day scoring leader with 395 points, followed by Oscar Robertson (377 points) and James (321 points).

250 – The teams playing on Christmas Day have brightened the holidays for hundreds of youth and families this year through more than 250 heartwarming and impactful NBA Cares Season of Giving events such as turkey drives, dinners and meal service, holiday parties and shopping sprees.

53 – The Knicks will play on Christmas Day for an NBA-high 53rd time.

50 – Three players have scored 50 or more points in a game on Christmas Day: Bernard King (60 points in 1984), Wilt Chamberlain (59 points in 1961) and Rick Barry (50 points in 1966).

38 – Thirty-eight players from outside the United States representing 20 countries are on the rosters of teams playing on Christmas Day, led by the Jazz with six international players.

30 – Rockets guard Eric Gordon will turn 30 on Christmas Day.

20 – The Lakers will play on Christmas Day for the 20th consecutive year.

14 – Fourteen 2018 NBA All-Stars are currently expected to play on Christmas Day.  NBA All-Star Voting 2019 presented by Google will launch on Dec. 25 at 11 a.m. ET.

13 – James will play his 13th Christmas Day game, which will tie him for the second-most appearances in NBA history. Bryant holds the record with 16.

5 – The last five players to be named NBA MVP will take the court on Christmas Day: Harden, Westbrook, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and James.

1 – Two-time All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and three-time All-Star Damian Lillard of Portland are among the players who will appear in a Christmas Day game for the first time.

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