This year the Los Angeles Lakers play the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day. What can we expect from LeBron James as he enters the twilight of his career? How many more Christmas Days will King James be the headliner?
Those questions are at the forefront of the minds of many basketball fans. The NBA on Christmas Day also makes us remember the Lakers King that existed before LeBron swooped in a few years ago and won a Bubble Chip. The late great Kobe “The Black Mamba” Bryant played in his record 16th and final Christmas Day game in 2015.
The Christmas Day tradition of superior basketball performances has been an integral part of the American sports watching experience since its advent. From Bernard King’s 60-point outburst in 1984 to the more recent exploits of LeBron James, great Christmas Day performances are held almost in the same high regard as historic playoff moments.
Additionally, Christmas games are often rivalrous in nature. The Knicks versus the Bulls back in the day, Lakers versus Heat ten years ago, Golden State Warriors versus the Cleveland Cavaliers when Bron and Curry were at their peaks and BK Nets Super Team (minus Kyrie) against the L.A. Lakers Geriatrics Gang Super Team are all indicative of that.
History is usually made on Christmas, and Kobe Bryant was often in the middle of it. The first showdown featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as opponents occurred on Christmas in 2004.
2009 and 2010 featured clasic battles between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. In 2012, Kobe became the all-time Christmas Day scorer with 383 points, surpassing Oscar Robertson, who scored 377 points. Kobe still holds the all-time mark having played 16 games on Christmas Day throughout his career, scoring a record 395 points.
King James is on Kobe’s heels with 383 points in 15 games and he should eclipse the record in a Lakers uniform on Christmas Day. Is there any wonder that Kobe Bryant is the all-time leader in games played on Christmas and has held the record for nearly a decade? No doubt, with as much inner fire and explosive athleticism as “Mamba Mentality” was known to muster back in the day, his very best was on display more often than not.
In memory of The Black Mamba, one of the iconic players in the history of sports, we remember the late Kobe Bryant’s greatest Christmas Day performances.
Kobe Clips The Knicks
Seemingly offended by those horrible orange Christmas uniforms, Bryant dropped 34 on the New York Knicks back in 2012.
All Kobe was hearing around this time was LeBron this and LeBron that, but he was likely thinking but Bron dont know jack, cuz Bron can’t rap — and neither could Kobe, but that’s neither here nor there. But what he did during the 2009-10 season is use any perceived slight as motivational fuel. Enroute to his fifth championship as a Laker, Kobe would drop 35 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists in a 15-point loss to Cleveland with a broken finger. Just more legendary fodder for his incomparable career.
Kobe Bryant Turns The Lights Out On The Suns
This was when Steve Nash was in his heyday and had recently swiped a NBA MVP that should have been Bryant’s. Well, the Mamba always remembers! The Mamba never forgets! He let his shooting stroke do the talking on Christmas 2007 in the form of 38 points, five rebounds, and seven assists versus Phoenix.
To this day, the fact that Nash has more MVPs than one of the top five players to ever do it is minboggling and an indictment of the NBA MVP voting process. And we all know why the NBA wasn’t giving Kobe the award at that time, regardless of what superhuman feats he accomplished on the court.
Kobe Takes Out Shaq Beef On Dwyane Wade
This 2004 Christmas game was real sturdy. Dwyane Wade was only in his second year in the NBA and was already nipping at Kobe’s heels, and Shaquille ONeal bolted La La Land for South Beach, further contributing to the “beef” that was now a public feud between the former teammates who had won three rings in a row (and damn near four) together.
Kobe would punish D-Wade for his Diesel disdain to the tune of 42 points, three rebounds, and six assists versus Miami.
Merry Christmas to every basketball fan across the globe.
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