by Mychael Ramirez


NBA on Christmas Day Returns to the Valley

A long-standing holiday tradition returns to Downtown Phoenix when the Suns take the court on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors, a tradition that dates back to the team’s inaugural season in 1968.

Since their first season, the Suns have played 18 times on Christmas Day and hold a 12-6 record. For Suns fans in the 1970s, a Christmas Day matchup against the Lakers was nearly its own annual holiday.

Now in its 75th season, the NBA has changed dramatically since Phoenix joined the league, but Christmas Day matchups have always been reserved for the NBA elite. In preparation for the team’s return to the holiday stage here’s a look back at notable Suns games of Christmas past.

December 25, 1968 – Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

In their inaugural season the Phoenix Suns faced the Lakers at the Madhouse on McDowell. The Original Sun, Dick Van Arsdale led all scorers and was just a few assists shy of the young franchise’s first triple-double. Despite a valiant fight the Suns fell to the Lakers 99-119 on their first Christmas. They returned the following year to defeat the Boston Celtics, the start of a 9-game winning streak that spanned from 1969 to 1980.

December 25, 1976 – Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

The Suns picked up their eighth straight holiday match-up in memorable fashion. Hall of Famer and Suns Ring of Honor member Paul Westphal led all scorers with 25 points and fellow Ring of Honor member Alvan “The Oklahoma Kid” Adams contributed with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists.  The Suns dominated the Lakers in the second half, dropping 79 points, including 43 in the final quarter to send fans home feeling festive with a 113-96 victory.

December 25, 1982 – Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz

The Suns took to the road on Christmas Day for the first time, flying north to Utah. They continued their holiday dominance, defeating a depleted Jazz team 111-101. Larry Nance Sr. and Alvan Adams each scored 14 points and Adams fell one assist shy of the team’s elusive first Christmas Day triple-double.

December 25, 1993 – Phoenix Suns v Houston Rockets

America West Arena, now Footprint Center, hosted NBA basketball on Christmas Day for the first time in 1993. The Suns rolled the Houston Rockets 111-91 in Charles Barkley’s first Christmas Day game as a Phoenix Sun. In just his second season in the Valley, Barkley dropped 38 points and grabbed 18 boards, and together with Kevin Johnson (36 points, 9 assists) brought the holiday spirit and a W back to Downtown Phoenix.

December 25, 2009 – Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Clippers

The franchise’s most recent Christmas Day game was nearly over once it began. Led by Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash, the Seven Seconds or Less Suns blew out the Los Angeles Clippers 124-93. Grant Hill made a 70 feet heave to close the first half and the Suns never looked back. The starting five spent the fourth quarter enjoying the game from the bench to mark a Christmas Day victory for the ages.

UP NEXT: December 25, 2021 – Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors

As Devin Booker, Chris Paul and the Suns eye Christmas Day, they will face Steph Curry and the Warriors for the third time in four weeks, with each team winning at home. While head coach Monty Williams has played (Orlando Magic) and coached as an assistant (Philadelphia 76ers,) 2021 marks his first time leading a team on December 25.

This year’s matchup has the potential to mark the highest combined winning percentage between opponents to play on Christmas Day in NBA history (pending results after this story published). Christmas Day games broadcast on ABC annually reach millions of basketball fans in more than 200 countries and territories and in more than 50 languages worldwide.

Tune into ABC at 3 p.m. MT  to watch the Suns take on the Warriors with their 11-5 Christmas Day home record on the line.



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