The NBA has a long history of Christmas Day games dating back to 1947, but there are still some unexpected milestones that happen in those games. In this Saturday’s second game between the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks, the Knicks’ Kemba Walker joined an illustrious club, becoming just the seventh player ever to record a NBA Christmas Day triple-double, and the first ever from the Knicks (notable considering that they have played more Christmas games than any other team). Walker put up 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in the Knicks’ 101-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks (who were fielding a severely depleted roster thanks to COVID-19 protocols). He said afterwards he was thrilled to reach that mark, especially considering that he’d spent nine games out of the team’s rotation before recently being put in a starting role:
“It was amazing,” Walker said. “Those are moments that you dream about. It’s kind of hard to put it into words, to be honest.”
…He said he couldn’t have foreseen things turning so quickly.
“This is not how we pictured it,” he said. “I ain’t complaining, either.”
Here are some of Walker’s highlights from Saturday:
"Picking up where he left off!"
— NBA (@NBA) December 25, 2021
Kemba Walker's cooking early in PnR. Early triple makes Clint Capela play this one a little higher.
Fantastic placement on this pass ahead of the tag from John Collins. pic.twitter.com/4pVdvXElF4
— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) December 25, 2021
Kemba Walker triple double +3300 ✅
The first Knick ever with a triple double on Christmas day 👏 pic.twitter.com/rUFnyiMnNI
— NBABet (@nbabet) December 25, 2021
Walker also said after the game he’s moved on from his benching:
Kemba Walker is "over" being benched:
"It don't matter anymore. It was a blessing in disguise, to be honest. Time goes on, guys go down, and I'm back." pic.twitter.com/QeGQ8VCPxx
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) December 25, 2021
But this was certainly a notable day for Walker, and for the Knicks. And this marked the first triple-double on Christmas since Draymond Green recorded one for the Golden State Warriors in 2017. The others come from Oscar Robertson (who did that four times), Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Billy Cunningham and John Havlicek. So Walker has joined a very limited club there.
[NBA.com; photo from Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports]