For some, the saying “‘Tis the season to be jolly” rings true but it is not for all of us. Whether it’s your recently divorced uncle Tony or the cat lady that lives next door, everyone knows someone who dons the grumpiness of Ebenezer Scrooge at this time of year. But this year there should be no reason to be grouchy around the holidays because for the first time since 2011 we will have football on Christmas to go along with the usual wall to wall NBA action. That’s right, for the first time in five years the NFL will play not one but two games on Christmas Day as the Ravens take on the Steelers and the Broncos play the Colts.
So with the holiday season in full swing, what better therapy is there than to reminisce some of the more memorable sports moments that occurred during this festive time in December.
On December 19th 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles got an early Christmas present when they played New York Giants in what is now referred to as “The Miracle at the New Meadowlands”. The Eagles looked all but dead in the swamps of New Jersey down 21 points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter when the wheels fell off for the Giants. Philadelphia scored 21 unanswered points and then DeSean Jackson put the nail in the coffin with one of the greatest punt returns in NFL history as time expired capping off a 28 point fourth quarter en route to the 38-31 victory.
The NBA has always made Christmas day one of the biggest attractions for fans during the season. In recent years the NBA has had a full slate of games on Christmas day and some are games that we may never forget.
Christmas Day 2004 marked the first time that Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant would play on the same floor as opponents. In the year prior, Shaq and Kobe had guided the Lakers to the NBA Finals together for the 6th time but were dismantled in five games by Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons. It was not the best way to end the relationship between the two stars but that’s how it went and made a great storyline for a primetime matchup on Christmas. They did not disappoint. Shaq recorded scored 24 points and grabbed 11 boards while Kobe poured in 42 points but Shaq got the better of the younger Kobe in the end as his Miami Heat squeaked out a 104-101 overtime win.
The holiday season also had some highlights from the sideline. Christmas Day marked the day some of the greatest coaches in their respective sports got legendary wins. In December 25th 1994, NFL Hall of Fame coach Don Shula passed George Halas for the most regular season wins (319) with the Miami Dolphins 27-20 victory over the Barry Sanders lead Detroit Lions. Similarly, one of the NBA’s greatest coaches Phil Jackson got a milestone present on Christmas Day 2008. In one of the most anticipated NBA Finals rematches in recent history, Jackson’s Lakers squared off against the reigning NBA champion Boston Celtics who entered the game on 19 game winning streak. Well, the Celtics winning streak didn’t make it to 20 as the Lakers beat the Celtics 92-83 in what marked Jackson’s 1,000th career victory.