NBA Rumors: Heat vs. Hawks, Suns vs. Grizzlies Scheduled for MLK Jr. Day on Jan. 16

Adam WellsAugust 16, 2022

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The NBA is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day during the 2022-23 season with a doubleheader on TNT on Jan. 16.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Atlanta Hawks will host the Miami Heat, then the Phoenix Suns will take on the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum.

It's possible the league will feature more games on MLK Day, as the 2021-22 schedule featured a total of 12 games with four on national television. NBA TV aired two games, sandwiched between a doubleheader on TNT.

The NBA's annual tradition of hosting games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day began when it was established as a federal holiday in 1986.

The Hawks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the first MLK Day game on Jan. 20, 1986. They have played in 31 games on the holiday in the past 36 years, tied for fourth-most in the NBA during that span.

The New York Knicks are the only team that has played on the holiday every year since 1986.

Atlanta's last non-home game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was on Jan. 16, 2017, when it took on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The last time the Hawks didn't play on the holiday was in 1998 (excluding the 1998-99 lockout season that didn't begin until Feb. 5).

The Grizzlies have played home games on MLK Day every year since 2003, with the exception of the 2016-17 season. The team instead hosted the Chicago Bulls on the eve of the holiday as part of its "Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Weekend."

On MLK Day in 2017, Grizzlies players, coaches and staff held a day of service in the community with Memphis citizens.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929. He was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the second floor of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39.


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