Even though the Dallas Mavericks lost in bittersweet fashion last night to the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 113-110, the Mavericks had come off one of their more thrilling victories of the season just a game before. Just three nights ago, Luka Doncic dropped off the Phoenix Suns on Christmas day with an astounding stat line of 50 points, 15 assists, six rebounds, four blocks, and three steals.
The game was significant for a variety of reasons, including the developing rivalry between Doncic and Booker that first started in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Doncic certainly got the better of Booker once again, as Booker only finished with 20 points off of 6-14 shooting from the field in 40 minutes of playing time.
Doncic's Christmas Day performance was dominant in all facets, and it was likely his best defensive game of the season as well. Doncic is showing that he completely owns the Phoenix Suns and his Christmas Day performance epitomized that, but have there been better Christmas Day performances in NBA history?
Ranking NBA Christmas Day performances: Where does Luka Doncic's 50-point game rank?
There certainly have been some other-worldly performances on Christmas day in the NBA, but Doncic's stat-line coupled with the budding Mavs-Suns rivalry certainly puts his performance amongst some of the best.
Nonetheless, here are the top five Christmas day performances in NBA history, as well as how Doncic's performance compares to them.
5. Rick Barry - 1966
Rick Barry and Luka Doncic both have something heavily in common, that is that both players make scoring an insane amount of points look pretty easy. Both players have unorthodox play styles as well, though Doncic differs a lot from Barry in the way he operates offensively.
Both players also scored 50 points on a Christmas day game, but context shouldn't be left out of the equation here. Barry is an undisputed basketball legend and Hall of Fame inductee, but he scored 50 points on a Christmas Day game in 1966. As a matter of fact, there isn't even any footage of the contest available online, and it's safe to say the quality of NBA basketball has improved tenfold in nearly all facets since Barry's Christmas Day performance in 1966.
However, this isn't to undermine the significance of how good Barry was as a player, as the 6-foot-7 forward is one of only four players to ever even scrape the 50-point mark on Christmas day. Barry was a master in the mid-range, was a prolific cutter, and a very dynamic player in the post.
Doncic is arguably already a better player than Barry ever was nonetheless, but Barry's performance on Christmas Day is still good enough to fall within the top five of the greatest individual performances on Christmas Day in NBA history.