NBA recap: Christmas Day hoops, MVP race and more

(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /

The NBA’s premier day for showcasing their top talent and teams is here, along with a look at the candidates emerging in a wide open MVP race.

Every major sport has one day where they own the sports landscape. The NFL has Thanksgiving. MLB has Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The English Premier League has all of their teams play on Boxing Day. College Football has New Year’s Day with their classic bowl games, and the NBA dominates Christmas Day.

This tradition of the NBA showcasing its brightest stars and teams on Christmas enters started in 1947 with a matchup between the New York Knicks and Providence Steam Rollers, a contest the Knicks won, 89-75. The NBA has seen its greatest players take the floor on Christmas, with only the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies never appearing in a game on Dec. 25.

This year is no different with some of the most established stars and teams participating. The tradition of LeBron James facing the Golden State Warriors continues as they match up for the first time with the King on the Los Angeles Lakers. The Philadelphia 76ers travel to Beantown to take on the Boston Celtics in a blossoming but one-sided rivalry.

The two most recent MVP recipients meet with Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder facing James Harden and the Houston Rockets. These two teams find themselves in different scenarios, with OKC emerging as a top contender and Houston barely on the brink of the playoff field.

Giannis Antetokounmpo returns to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks, the arena where he threw down the dunk of the year. The slate concludes with a ridiculous guard matchup when Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum travel to Salt Lake City to face Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz.

This year’s slate omits plenty of top contenders, the Toronto Raptors most notably, but still has plenty of intrigue and star power. It’s not often NBA has games on all day, and there are playoff and seeding implications in every game sans Bucks-Knicks. If you can find the time to watch hoops while hanging with the family, the NBA did a great job of putting together an entertaining group of games.