NBA Top 4: Popular Christmas Day attractions
While most North Americans get to spend Christmas Day tearing through wrapping paper and gorging themselves on turkey and stuffing, a handful of men and women are forced to work - and that includes professional basketball players.
The annual Christmas Day NBA schedule is full of marquee teams and fierce rivalries, more often than not resulting in entertaining games. Some teams have become fixtures on the holiday schedule, due to the quality of the roster or the size of the market.
Here's a look at four of the most popular Christmas Day attractions (records since 1990-91):
Chicago Bulls (8-2 SU, 5-4-1 ATS, 4-6 O/U)
No team has spread more holiday cheer than the Michael Jordan-led Bulls of the 1990s, who ripped through opponents with no regard for human life. The Bulls won all seven Christmas Day games they played in the 1990s, while covering the spread five times over that span. The Bulls were pulled off the Christmas schedule following Jordan's "retirement" and subsequent relocation to Washington, but resurfaced after building a solid two-way team led by point guard Derrick Rose. Chicago hasn't fared as well over the last three holiday games, going 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS. The Bulls visit Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Miami Heat (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS, 2-7 O/U)
The holiday season seems to bring out the best in the Heat, who have been one of the showcase Christmas Day teams since the turn of the century - and with good reason. From the days of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade to the present three-headed monster of Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Miami has represented must-see-NBA-TV for the better part of a decade. Their Christmas Day performances have been sensational - they have won their last four Dec. 25 contests, covering the spread in each one. Miami tangles with the host Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Los Angeles Lakers (6-8 SU, 8-5-1 ATS, 5-9 O/U)
The franchise once known as "Showtime" has been anything but when it comes to performing on Christmas Day. The Lakers have struggled SU on Dec. 25, having dropped seven of their last 10 games despite performing well ATS over that span (6-4). They have also had remarkable success as an "under" play, going below the total in five consecutive games and seven of the last eight. Armed with a threadbare roster and dealing with a long-term injury to franchise centerpiece Kobe Bryant, expect that trend to continue.
New York Knicks (3-5 SU, 2-6 ATS, 4-4 O/U)
No team has appeared in more Christmas Day games than the Knicks (47), but they've only recently returned to prominence after spending most of the 2000s on the holiday sidelines. The acquisition of superstar Carmelo Anthony has livened things up at Madison Square Garden, but that hasn't translated to success on Dec. 25. New York is 2-2 SU in its last four holiday outings, and has covered the spread just once over that span. Low-scoring games have also been the rule, with the "under" converting in the three of the past four years. New York hosts Oklahoma City on Wednesday.