The Opening Tip-Off of the NBA season is one of the most anticipated sports moments of the year. After months of preseason predictions and games, fans get excited about seeing their teams for the first time, and then the thrill goes away almost instantly until Christmas Day.
Christmas Day match-ups come with the intent to drum up certain rivalries in the league or throw a young talent into the spotlight, hoping he will add yet another bright star to the list. The games for the day tend to feature the NBA’s best, but who is the best of the best? Well, let’s find out.
Is it Dwyane Wade? Possibly. The case for Wade is compelling yet straightforward, as he has the most number of Christmas Day wins with 10. Many of Wade’s Christmas Day wins came alongside Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James, but let’s not pretend D-Wade was not pivotal in all those wins as the only years the Miami Heat were not good were the years that Wade was injured or on the decline. Having the most number of Christmas Day wins, while arguably being the team’s best player, makes Wade a prime candidate.
Right behind Wade’s ten wins is LeBron James with nine and counting. James has been the lone bright spot in the Los Angeles Lakers’ new Big 3 and looks to lead his team to a morale-boosting win over Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets this weekend. A win for James would put him in a tie for most wins on Christmas Day, and while some people believe Wade has always been the best player on his team, LeBron James is LeBron James. LeBron has some notable Christmas Day wins over Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors.
Lastly, an equally compelling case could be made for Laker legend Kobe Bryant. Kobe is tied with LeBron James for the most points on Christmas Day with 383, but boy did he do it in iconic fashion. Bryant played in 16 Christmas Day games, the most of any player so far. LeBron will be playing in his 16th this year and will likely have a few more in him before his career is over.
I think this one goes to D-Wade at the end of the day. Perhaps LeBron will be the correct answer in a few years, but I remember watching those Christmas Day games and seeing how Wade dominated by pushing the pace on both ends of the floor. He also had to match-up with Kobe several times and often bested the Black Mamba. Wade was a beast all year round, and even though we don’t consider him one of the Greatest of All-Time, there was no better holiday hopper than D-Wade.