Since 1949, the Lakers have played on Christmas Day 39 times, with a 21-18 record over that stretch. The Lakers playing on Christmas Day has been a staple within the NBA over the years. This Christmas will mark the 15th straight year that the Lakers have been in action on Christmas Day. With a win against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center, the Lakers would tie the New York Knicks for the most Christmas Day victories (22) in NBA history. Let’s take a look back at some notable Christmas Day moments for the purple and gold over their 66-year history.
December 25, 1949
The Lakers played their first ever Christmas Day game when they hosted and defeated the Ft. Wayne Pistons 72-58 in Minneapolis. This season marked the Lakers’ second season in the NBA, during which they would win the franchise’s first NBA title.
December 25, 1963
The Lakers beat the Knicks 134-126 at Madison Square Garden in their first ever Christmas Day meeting with New York. Los Angeles was led by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, who dropped 47 and 27 points, respectively. It would take 49 more years for the Lakers and Knicks to meet again on Christmas Day.
December 25, 1999
Shaquille O’Neal scored 32 points and collected 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a victory in their first Christmas Day game since 1996. Los Angeles defeated the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs 99-93 in the first ever Christmas Day game at the Staples Center. Glen Rice added 25 points for the Lakers, while Kobe Bryant chipped in with 18.
December 25, 2001
In this rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals, the Lakers rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 88-82 at the Staples Center. With Kobe Bryant struggling from the field and Shaquille O’Neal out with an injury, Los Angeles was led by an unlikely hero, Samaki Walker, who scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Allen Iverson dropped 31 points in the loss.
December 25, 2007
After five straight Christmas Day losses, the Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 122-115 at the Staples Center. Andrew Bynum scored a then-career-high 28 points and collected 12 rebounds. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles in scoring with 38 points on the day, while shooting 60% from the field. Bryant surpassed Tom Chambers to move into 30th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 31st point of the game.
December 28, 2008
The Lakers snapped Boston’s 19-game winning streak, while also avenging their NBA Finals loss from six months before, when they defeated the Celtics 92-83 on Christmas Day at the Staples Center. With the victory, Phil Jackson recorded his 1,000th career win as an NBA head coach, a plateau he reached faster than any other coach in NBA history. Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 27 points, while Pau Gasol added 20. This Laker victory sent the then-surging Celtics into a 2-6 slide over their next eight games and helped solidify Los Angeles’ position at the top of the NBA standings.
December 25, 2012
Kobe Bryant set an NBA record when he played in his 15th consecutive Christmas Day game. Bryant broke his own record of 14 straight Christmas Day games, which he set the year before, and further surpassed the previous record of 13 held by Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dolph Schayes. The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 100-94 behind Bryant’s 34 points at the Staples Center. On this day, Bryant also eclipsed Oscar Robertson as the NBA’s all-time leading Christmas Day scorer with 383 points.