Has the NBA ever played on Thanksgiving?

The NBA has played on Thanksgiving Day before, but not in the last 13 years, allowing the NFL to take complete control of Turkey Day.
Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets
Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets / Doug Pensinger/GettyImages

From a sports perspective, most families and sports fans associate football with Thanksgiving. More specifically, teams like the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys who always play on Thanksgiving. However, that was not always the case, as the NBA also played on Thanksgiving.

The last time there was a Thanksgiving game was in 2010, when the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Sacramento Kings.

The million-dollar question: Why has the NBA stopped playing games on Thanksgiving?

For starters, NBA players, employees, coaches, officials, and broadcasters get the day off and can spend time with their friends and families. Besides eating turkey, watching football is also a Thanksgiving staple, and the NBA does not want to mess with that. The NBA will never admit this, but with the NFL having a tripleheader, the NBA would not want to compete with the NFL from a ratings perspective.

If the NBA tried to compete with the NFL, that would be a losing battle. The NBA has already had to shift its schedule due to the NFL season when they moved their "Inside the NBA" doubleheader on TNT from Thursdays to Tuesdays, so they do not have to compete with the NFL and Thursday Night Football.

The NFL has not only taken over Thanksgiving, but have surpassed the NBA as the marquee sport played on Christmas Day. With three NFL games scheduled on Christmas Day this year, the NBA will need to do something creative if they are going to have any shot at keeping Christmas a basketball holiday.

For die-hard basketball fans or people who do not like football as much as basketball, they may be upset there is no basketball on Thanksgiving. However, it is an intelligent decision, and if they want basketball badly, college basketball is always on. The Battle 4 Atlantis and a top 25 showdown between Michigan State and Arizona will occur on Thanksgiving Day 2023.

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