0 out of 5
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Getting together with family, opening gifts, eating a hearty brunch and relaxing on the sofa in front of NBA entertainment has become a Christmas Day routine for many fans around the world.
And over the past two decades, a handful of gamers have made this moment on the couch unforgettable.
A truly objective list of top Christmas Day performances may be impossible to compile, but we’ll be using the game score, which is “a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game,” according to Basketball reference, and only one game plus / minus box– “a measure based on the score of a basketball box which estimates the contribution of a basketball player to the team when that player is on the field” – in order to approximate it.
If we take every Christmas Day performance of at least 20 minutes since 2000 and sort them by the average of their ranks into those two numbers, we get the next first five (with excuses for closing Kevin Durant’s calls in 2010, James Harden in 2017, Khris Middleton in 2020, Kawhi Léonard in 2019 and Tracy McGrady in 2002).
1 of 5
Fresh off a six-game loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, in which LeBron James averaged just 17.8 points, the Miami Heat star had a chance for revenge on Christmas 2011. And he more than got it.
Due to the lockout, this was LeBron’s first performance since Dallas ended their quest for the title months earlier. And the shy player whose impact was all but wiped out by Shawn Marion was nowhere to be found.
LeBron attacked throughout the game, taking all of his two-pointers and going straight for any Maverick thrown in front of him.
The Heat dismantled the Mavs, leading up to 35 points before the Mavs reduced the lead in waste time.
It was a performance that set the tone for a season cut short by the lockout in which Miami went 46-20, LeBron won the MVP and the Heat won the title.
2 of 5
In his first game against his former team (he had missed all three clashes with the Boston Celtics in 2019-2020 with injuries), Kyrie Irving dazzled TD Garden fans with his vast offensive arsenal.
Dribble-drives in mid-range pull-ups and lobs, dribble pull-ups three, catch-and-shoot three, and indoor finishes were all on display. And Boston looked on the verge of helplessness against him.
Injury would again have a say in the outcome of Kyrie’s season as he sprained a costly ankle sprain in the playoffs, but this Christmas performance helped get him on track. of 26.9 points and 6.0 assists per game with a score of 40.2 to three. percentage of points for the campaign.
3 out of 5
LeBron James’ first Christmas game was a sign of things to come. As an 18-year-old who had been in the league for just a few months, he had 34 points and six assists.
Tracy McGrady wasn’t ready to give up the league’s first torch, however. He beat LeBron with a monster performance and a series of punches from all over the floor.
“He’s an All-Star,” LeBron noted from McGrady after the game. “It’s a future Hall of Famer. Guys like him, you can’t stop. You can only hope to contain it. “
Hopefully as much as they could, the Cavs couldn’t contain a T-Macs, but they weren’t alone around this time. McGrady led the NBA on offense BPM in 2002-03 and 2003-04, and this was only one of 21 of his games over 40 points in those seasons (and playoffs).
4 out of 5
At the height of the “LeBron or Kobe Bryant” debate, and shortly after Kobe secured the league’s MVP award in 2008, LeBron’s newly assembled Heatles overtook defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, 96-80.
And while defense and a 24-point, 13-rebound double-double from Chris Bosh had a lot to do with the blowout, LeBron’s ridiculously efficient triple-double was the determining factor in the victory.
Kobe, of course, had more All-NBA-caliber games (and seasons) in him, but that game seemed like a turning point in his rivalry with James.
LeBron finished one more place than Kobe in MVP 2010-11 vote, and he won his four NBA titles from 2012 to 2020.
5 out of 5
Four years before our No.2 performance and long before LeBron joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, The Flash had perhaps the best performance of his career at that time over Christmas and against the legendary Kobe Bryant.
Months after Wade took control of the 2006 NBA Finals, his ability to surpass Premier League 2 (Kobe had just 16 points on 4 of 17 shots) to this degree has been a revelation.
And while injuries wiped out more than a third of Wade’s 2006-07 campaign, that performance and the rest of the season were enough to get him into the “best in the league” conversation.
That Christmas Day performance might not have necessarily been the start of this race, but it was definitely one of the exclamation points.