Sitting by the fire as the Oklahoma winds whip through Bricktown. You’re opening presents with your loved ones but you keep one eye glued to the clock. While spending time with your family is great, the Thunder national family has become another thing in itself. The Thunder playing on Christmas, it’s as traditional as Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey.
When the ball jumps at the Peake on Christmas Day, it’s a continual sign that Oklahoma City has arrived. No long is the town a po-dunk little pass over town. People stop and the gawk at the goosebump giving play of the reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook.
Despite the market size, which many still feels handicaps the franchise, the Thunder have been all over the NBA schedule on Christmas Day.
The tension was real before the schedule was released last season. Would the NBA punish the Thunder for not having Kevin Durant? Is this what mediocrity would look like when the NBA passed over the Thunder? However, all those questions fell to the side as Oklahoma City was given a showdown with the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves.
While the T-Wolves fans celebrated their return to the NBA spotlight, for the Thunder fans, the cheers were there, along with a sigh of relief. Westbrook didn’t disappoint. Throwing down a near triple-double in a double-digit win over the young pups of Minnesota.
It’s the best time of the year, Christmas time. The opportunity to play the game I love every night is a blessing. I enjoy it,” Westbrook said.
Gone though, with the move to Nike are the unique Christmas Day uniforms. Most teams will wear their statement uniforms, you know the dark blue ones with orange lettering. Expect the Rockets to wear their red uniforms or the white ones as the black and dark blue contrast too much.
The Thunder have played on every Christmas Day since 2010. The Thunder at the time were having their welcome to the spotlight moment as they throttled the Denver Nuggets. Kevin Durant scored 44 points in the game, his first 40-point game of the season that year. Westbrook’s killer time showed Chauncey Billups and Co., a very efficient 19 points.
Each year, the games became more intriguing and more of a showdown with the NBA’s best teams. In 2012, the Thunder opened the strike-shortened season against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Oklahoma City held the Howard to one of his lowest scoring outputs (11) all season long.
Games against Miami and San Antonio, at the time, two of the best teams at the time (and who met in back-to-back Finals). Sandwiched between those was Westbrook’s coming out party against the New York Knicks. A triple-double and a mop of the floor, saw the NBA realize how great the future MVP would be.
Who can forget Reggie Jackson being a Spurs killer on Christmas and ruining Christmas for the Spurs?
There have been duds. A 2015 loss to the very average Chicago Bulls set the Thunder back. Oklahoma City couldn’t beat the LeBron James led Heat, as we all had PTSD of the NBA Finals match up
All-in-all, playing on Christmas is special for Oklahoma City and their fan base. We take our families and loved ones to the games or we get a nice plate of food and sit around the big screen, cheering on our team. When the Rockets come to town on Christmas Day. Thunder fans have already won. They’ll be on national television. There’s an NBA team in Oklahoma City.
It’s a joy to tell those who are curious on what you’re doing for Christmas. You look at them and just tell them, “Yeah, I’ll be watching Thunder basketball.”
Merry Christmas and Happy holidays from everyone here at Thunder Digest.
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