The Best NBA Line You’ve Never Heard Of

By: 09.28.11  •  17 Comments

Alvin Robertson

This all started a week ago when I stumbled on an old article about Rajon Rondo‘s freakish rebounding numbers. Friends got to talking. People got to arguing. Everyone got to debating. Now, I’m looking through box scores from all over trying to find the craziest numbers. Honestly though, it doesn’t get much more unique than a quadruple-double.

Alvin Robertson was pretty good. He wasn’t great, no one wrote books about him or even clamor 15+ years later that he was a great player (actually, we did). He also scored the first basket in the Raptors’ history as an NBA franchise, which if you know those fans at all, this makes him something like a honorary God in Toronto.

Forgetting some of the off-the-court charges pressed against him in recent years, on the night of February 18, 1986, Robertson dropped 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals for the Spurs in a 120-114 win over Phoenix despite playing only 36 minutes. I don’t need to do the math do I? That’s pretty crazy (NOTE: one year earlier to the day, Larry Bird had 30, 12, 10 and nine steals despite sitting out the fourth quarter. Woah.). Robertson wouldn’t be one of the players you’d expect to have a quadruple-double, especially when it’s only happened four official times.

Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson are like the ultimate “quad-dub” players. If you needed to build a replica for a science museum of an all-around, totally dominant player, those would be your guys: Smart, athletic, quick, fast, strong, coordinated, unselfish, could play both ends and have the touch to finish. So it’s no surprise that they once did it as well:

Olajuwon, 3/29/90 vs. Milwaukee (ironically Robertson was playing): 18 PTS, 16 REB, 10 AST, 11 BLK

Robinson, 2/17/94 vs. Detroit: 34 PTS, 10 REB, 10 AST, 10 BLK

Nate Thurmond was another player who did it, the center finishing with 22, 14, 13 and 12 blocks during the early portion of the 1974-75 season. Before him, who knows? No one kept track of individual defensive stats.

Nowadays, we are in the age of specialization. From the eight-year-old who gets scolded by his pops because he wants to play two sports instead of one to technology to the NBA where players can now make it in the league with one specific skill, there are very few jack-of-all-trades anymore. Even the best players don’t always guard each other. “We have to save their energy,” coaches will tell you. It makes some sense. But this attitude isn’t yielding too many quadruple-doubles.

Tim Duncan came close during the closeout win in the 2003 NBA Finals (21, 20, 10 and eight blocks) but has anyone threatened that mark since? Not likely. Even with otherworldly talent like LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin, none of them will probably ever be the next Alvin Robertson.

Which game was the most impressive?

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