A Holiday Tradition: ABC, ESPN Combine to Televise Five NBA Christmas Day Games


A Holiday Tradition: ABC, ESPN Combine to Televise Five NBA Christmas Day Games


  • 14 Hours of Continuous NBA Coverage Highlighted by NBA Finals Rematch – Cleveland at Golden State – on ABC
  • Superstars on Display: Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan & James Harden
  • Kobe Bryant to Make Final Christmas Day Appearance, 12th During ABC/ESPN Years
  • Must-See NBA Countdown Pre-game Show to Include Original Interviews with LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant & Kobe Bryant

 A holiday sports tradition continues as ABC and ESPN will serve as the Christmas Day home to the NBA for the 14th consecutive season, this Friday, Dec. 25. ABC and ESPN will combine to televise five star-studded games spanning more than 14 continuous hours of coverage – beginning at 12 p.m. (noon) ET and going well past midnight. All Christmas Day games will also be available on ESPN Deportes and streamed via WatchESPN. In total, more than 30 ESPN NBA commentators will contribute to on-air coverage of the NBA on Christmas Day. Here are the highlights:

NBA on ABC doubleheader

The NBA will make its regular-season debut on ABC with a blockbuster doubleheader, beginning at 2:30 p.m. when the Oklahoma City Thunder – led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook – host the Chicago Bulls and Jimmy Butler. Mike Tirico will provide commentary with analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Hubie Brown and reporter Chris Broussard.

At 5 p.m., the 26-1 (as of Dec. 21) defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors – led by reigning M.V.P. Stephen Curry – will host the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James in a rematch of the most-watched NBA Finals in ABC history. Mike Breen, analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson and reporter Heather Cox will call the action. This is the 6th Christmas Day that Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson have worked as a trio.

Must-see NBA Countdown on ABC

NBA Countdown Presented by Straight Talk WirelessABC’s and ESPN’s NBA pre-game show will make its ABC regular-season debut at 2 p.m. Analysts Doug Collins and Jalen Rose will join host Sage Steele for their third-consecutive Christmas Day together. NBA Countdown will include original sit-down interviews with several of the sport’s most popular stars, including LeBron James (with Michael Wilbon), Kobe Bryant (with Wilbon), Stephen Curry (with Sage Steele) and Kevin Durant (with Steele).Additionally, the trio will appear during halftime of all five games and will appear live from the Staples Center during halftime of the L.A. Lakers-L.A. Clippers Christmas nightcap game.

In addition, NBA Countdown will include a special Christmas broadcast open, which will feature the use of Claymation. The Claymation story is set in the home of the Yeti (abominable snowman), who is a fan of the NBA – most notably the Golden State Warriors. On Christmas Day, several NBA players will come baring gifts, but the best gift is what Stephen Curry and his daughter Riley bring to the Yeti. Tune in to NBA Countdown for more.

 NBA on ESPN tripleheader – Kobe Bryant’s final Christmas Day appearance

14 hours of continuous Christmas Day coverage begins on ESPN at 12 p.m. when the Miami Heat – led by Dwyane Wade – host the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis. Mark Jones will provide play-by-play alongside analyst Kara Lawson, who will call her first ESPN NBA game.

ESPN will re-join Christmas Day coverage for a prime-time doubleheader, starting at 8 p.m. as the San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan visit the Houston Rockets and James Harden for a Texas intrastate showdown. Two first-time ESPN Christmas Day commentators – Ryan Ruocco (play-by-play) and Cassidy Hubbarth (sideline reporter) – will join analyst P.J. Carlesimo to call the game.

In the final game of the day, Kobe Bryant takes the Christmas Day stage for the final time (and 12th Christmas appearance on ABC/ESPN overall) as he leads the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Paul at the Staples Center. The Lakers have appeared on Christmas Day all 14 seasons that ABC and ESPN have televised Christmas Day NBA action.  The team of Dave Pasch, analyst Jon Barry and reporter J.A. Adande will provide commentary.

SportsCenter’s coverage of the Christmas Day slate of five NBA games will include ESPN.com reporters Marc Stein and Dave McMenamin at the Cavaliers/Warriors game. Additionally, SC has a sleigh-full of features and NBA elements running throughout the week, including: memorable Christmas Day game moments; a Chris Connelly feature on the diversity of Warriors fans; holiday photos of players as children and three Sport Science features (Steph Curry’s 30-foot jumpers, Curry and LeBron James comparison and Kyrie Irving’s quickness).

Christmas Day schedule, commentator assignments

Time (ET) Game Commentators Network(s)
12 p.m. NBA Christmas Special presented by State Farm New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat ESPN: Mark Jones, Kara Lawson, Israel Gutierrez

ESPN Deportes: Alvaro Martin, Carlos Morales

ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
2 p.m. NBA Countdown Presented by Straight Talk Wireless Sage Steele, Jalen Rose, Doug Collins ABC, WatchESPN
2:30 p.m. NBA Christmas Special presented by State Farm Chicago Bulls at Oklahoma Thunder ABC: Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, Chris Broussard

ESPN Deportes: Roger Valdivieso, Pablo Viruega

ESPN Radio: Marc Kestecher, Bob Valvano


ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, WatchESPN
5 p.m. NBA Christmas Special presented by State Farm Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors ABC: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Heather Cox

ESPN Deportes: Alvaro Martin, Carlos Morales

ESPN Radio: Kevin Calabro, Tim Legler

ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, WatchESPN
8 p.m. NBA Christmas Special presented by State Farm San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets ESPN: Ryan Ruocco, P.J. Carlesimo, Cassidy Hubbarth

ESPN Deportes: Roger Valdivieso, Pablo Viruega

ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
10:30 p.m. NBA Christmas Special presented by State Farm Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers ESPN: Dave Pasch, Jon Barry, J.A. Adande

ESPN Deportes: Renato Bermudez, Sebastian Martinez Christensen

ESPN, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
1 a.m. NBA Tonight Prim Siripipat, Amin Elhassan ESPN2, WatchESPN


Media contact: Ben Cafardo at 860-766-3496 or [email protected] (@Ben_ESPN).


Ben Cafardo

I lead communications strategy and execution for ESPN’s NBA, MLB, FIBA and Little League World Series properties. I’m also a proud consumer of all things ESPN.
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