Records are meant to be broken. This applies to all professional sports, as fans relish a player’s quest to make his mark in the record books. Before the dawn of League Pass or YouTube or televised games, fans could learn of a player’s dominance and value from the record books.
In the NBA, there is no one more dominant in the record books than Wilt Chamberlain, who not only holds 72 different NBA records, but also holds multiple records (second and third best etc.) within different statistical categories.
Fans are obsessed with records, particularly in the NBA. Below, we break down the ten most unbreakable records that have been set in professional basketball.
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Consecutive Wins (33)
In the 1971-72 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers not only made history, but also set arguably the most unbreakable record in all of professional sports, let alone the NBA. A team led by Coach Bill Sharman, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich won 33-streak games starting on November 5, 1971, and ending on January 9, 1972 with a loss against Lew Alcindor and the Milwaukee Bucks.
What sets this particular record apart is when you actually break down the specifics of the Lakers’ 33 wins. For example, the ’71-72 Lakers outscored their opponents by 16 points during the streak, beating 23 of the 33 opponents by double-digits, and outscoring opponents by at least 20 points eight separate times. Additionally, the Lakers that year played in four separate back-to-back-to-back game sets during their streak and started their 33 straight wins by playing 8 games in 10 days.
Last season, the Miami Heat were a threat to break the Lakers’ 33 consecutive wins record by going on a 27-game win streak. The 2012-13 Heat passed the New York Giants’ (baseball) streak of 26 consecutive wins in 1916. The Heat hold the second-longest streak of consecutive wins in a team sport, and they were still 6 shy of the indomitable 1971-72 Lakers.
Most points scored in a game (100)
On March 2, 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors’ Wilt Chamberlain set the still standing single-game record for points by posting 100 against the New York Knicks in a 169-147 win at Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kobe Bryant has been the only player to get close to Chamberlain’s 100-point record by scoring 81 points in 2006 â€” itself a mind-numbing total for a contemporary player.
Chamberlain had already broken the record for most points scored in a single game (then 71) by scoring 78 points in December of 1961. There is no video footage of Chamberlain’s 100 point game, and no major press outlets were in attendance on that historical night in Pennsylvania. There are only audio recordings from the fourth quarter and the stories from witnesses of “The Big Dipper’s” performance, which only adds to the legend of the record-setting game.
Most championships (11)
When it is often said that championships are all that matter, the man with more rings than can fit on each finger is often overlooked. Bill Russell played in the NBA for 13 seasons and only failed to capture a ring in two of those seasons (1958 and 1967). In ’58, he was injured during the Celtics’ loss to Bob Petit’s Hawks, and in 1967, it was his first season as a player/coach after Red Auerbach retired to the front office. After losing in ’67 to Wilt, Russell came back to defeat him two more times as player/coach before retiring following the 1969 season.
Russell won eight consecutive championships (1959-66) with the Boston Celtics. In fact, the top eight players with the most NBA championships in league history all played during Russell’s reign in Boston. He is the epitome of a winner.
Best record (72-10 1995-96 Chicago Bulls)
In the first full season after returning from an unexpected retirement, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to the most dominant team performance of all time in the 1994-95 season, finishing the regular season with a 72-10 record.
That Bulls team, featuring Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman was also surrounded by by important role players like Ron Harper, Luc Longley, Toni Kukoc, and Steve Kerr. They started the season with a 41-3 record. Under arguably the most successful system of all time, Phil Jackson and Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense, the Bulls beat the record for most wins in a season, held by the 1971-72 Lakers (69-13). The Bulls went on to win the 1995 Finals, ending the season (including the postseason) winning 87 out of 100 games.
Highest points per game average (50.4)
In the 1961-62 season, Wilt Chamberlain broke his own record (38.4) for the highest scoring average for a season by averaging 50.4 PPG over 80 games with the Philadelphia Warriors. It’s a headline achievement in today’s NBA to score 50 points in a single game. Just imagine if that was your favorite player’s average now!
Chamberlain once again dominates this record, owning five of the top 10 highest single season scoring averages. Michael Jordan owns two of these records, averaging 37.1 points per game in 1986-87 (6th highest) and 35.0 PPG in 1987-88 (10th highest). The only active NBA player to crack the top ten in this particular category is Kobe Bryant, who averaged 35.4 PPG in the 2005-06 season â€” when he played alongside Smush Parker in the backcourt.
Most rebounds in a game (55)
On November 24, 1960, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors broke Bill Russell’s record (51) for most rebounds recorded in a single game with 55 against the Boston Celtics. Chamberlain grabbed 31 of those 55 boards in the first half. This particular Chamberlain record was set in a game the Warriors lost to the Celtics echoing Russell’s dominance of Chamberlain in the most important category: wins.
Chamberlain and Russell dominate the category for most rebounds in a single game, with one or the other owning the top twelve single-game rebounding totals in NBA history. To put this Chamberlain record in perspective, the most rebounds recorded in a single game by an active NBA player is Kevin Love with 31.
Most career points (38,387)
This particular record will be discussed among NBA fans more and more in the near future as Kobe Bryant (currently 4th on the list) is only 675 points away from tying Michael Jordan (3rd on the list) for most points scored in a career. Coming off an Achilles injury and a lot mystery regarding his return, the closer Bryant gets to Jordan’s record in this category, the more the record and the achievement that goes along with it will be discussed.
However, two players in NBA history separated their records from Jordan and the pursuing Bryant: Karl Malone and the record-holder, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Of the top five record-holders in this category (Chamberlain, Bryant, Jordan, Malone, Abdul-Jabbar), Kareem has the lowest career points per game (24.6). However, it is because he played in the most games of the top five (1,560) that allowed him to own the top spot.
Most career assists (15,806)
John Stockton’s 15,806 career assists will be very difficult to break in the future. In fact, 3,715 assists separate Stockton from the player with the second highest number of career assists, Jason Kidd.
There are two active NBA players in the top 10 of this category: Steve Nash (10,249) and Andre Miller (7,956). Steve Nash is on track to pass Mark Jackson for the third most career assists early this season, needing just 85 more dimes to tie the current head coach of the Golden State Warriors. But there doesn’t appear to be anyone even close to challenging Stockton’s career mark.
Most seasons leading NBA in scoring (10)
Michael Jordan is the owner of an NBA record 10 scoring titles (1986-93 and 1995-98). Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to win the season scoring title seven consecutive times. Jordan also owns the highest points per game average in NBA history (30.12), narrowly beating out Chamberlain’s 30.07 PPG.
Recently, Kevin Durant was the NBA’s scoring champion three years running (2009-12), but was dethroned last season by Carmelo Anthony by a scant seven-tenths of a point.
Most assists in a game (30)
As a member of the Orlando Magic, Scott Skiles surpassed Kevin Porter‘s record (29) for most assists in a single game when he dished 30 dimes against the Denver Nuggets on December 30, 1990. Skiles recorded 14 of his 30 assists in the first half and ended the game posting more than twice as many assists as the opponent’s team total (30-14).
59 players in NBA history have recorded 20 or more assists in a single game (including the playoffs). John Stockton (38), Magic Johnson (32), and Kevin Porter (18) have thrown 20 or more assists in a game at least 15 or more times. The only active NBA players to record 24 or more assists in a game are Ramon Sessions in 2008 and Rajon Rondo in 2010 (both with 24).â€¨
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