NBA Records That Won’t Be Broken

Bill Russell‘s 11 NBA championships. Wilt‘s 100-point *insert noun that is exponentially better than “outburst” here.* Oscar Robertson‘s 41 triple-doubles in 79 games during the 1961-62 season. Call me ignorant, but I don’t think they’ll ever break. All these things we’re aware of, but we’re also conscious they’ll never be topped because they were set in a different era.

There’s always lesser records to be broken, however. You want your name cemented into NBA history? There’s ways to do it other than winning a lot or dropping buckets. Sure, it doesn’t mean people will like you, think you’re the greatest or even think you’re good at all. Setting records, though, involves doing something really amazing or incredibly poorly. Either way, such performances will be remembered, even if they come by way of “fluke buckets,” as fellow Dime writer Jaimie Canterbury calls them.

So I set out to find some newer records – some good, some bad – that in this new era of basketball, may never be broken.


John Stockton is the man. From 1,164 assists in a single season, to his single game performances, to his all-time assist record, nothing was a fluke. And it’s unlikely anybody will top any of it even if we have a league where as many as eight teams have quote-on-quote, elite point guards. Stockton holds eight of the top 10 single season records for total assists, and the only current player even close to that is Chris Paul‘s 2007-08 season of 925 total assists, which puts him at the No. 17 slot all-time.

Sticking with assist records, Scott Skiles‘ 30 assists in a single game for Orlando in 1990 might hold strong as well. Stockton was close, dropping 28, 27 and 26 dimes on separate occasions, with Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd and Nate McMillan each having a 25-assist game. Current players who got kind of close were Rajon Rondo‘s 24-assist game in 2010, which is tied with Ramon Sessions‘ game in 2008 while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.

But putting up frequent assists throughout a whole game – then of course, every game for a season and then a career – is difficult.

The record for most assists in a quarter would make one believe a player could have 50 in a game. Both Steve Blake and John Lucas have registered 14 assists in single quarters, but the most in a half was Bob Cousy at 19. Hence, why Stockton’s frequent appearances on all the assists’ record lists (he still has 4,000 assists more than Kidd for his career) are so incredible, even if he did receive a lot of help from that Karl Malone guy.

There’s a saying that you’ll miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take. I think it was Wayne Gretzky who said it, but in my own mind I always imagine it coming out of Kobe Bryant‘s mouth. Or the one friend who tries to mack on every girl at the bar that’s out of his league and has a 5-percent success rate. Either, or.

Missing shots leads to questions. Are you good enough to be taking said shots? Should you take different shots? Should you not take any more shots if you keep missing? Or do you keep launching?

For the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal‘s 26-point, 17-rebound game on Dec. 8, 2000 against Seattle saw him go an NBA-record 0-for-11 from the foul stripe. We know Shaq isn’t the best foul shooter out there, but still, how can anyone in professional basketball even miss that many shots that are free?

The record books get more ugly, however. In 2001, Boston Celtics forward Antoine Walker shot the same number, 0-for-11 from three-point range. Known as the ultimate chucker, ‘Toine really couldn’t, like, stop? Not only does that record suggest a poor shot and bad shot selection, it suggests delusional logic.

Even worse was Tim Hardaway going 0-for-17 from the field against Minnesota in 1991. Likely, it’s questionable decision-making with a hint of bad luck, and unlike Walker, he at least wasn’t chucking threes “because there are no fours.” Bad luck can play a part in such a number, but at the end of the day, it’s a wonder what it feels like to try putting a ball in a cylinder 17 times (at any level) and never succeeding.

I’m sure many guys have finished their NBA seasons with perfect percentages from the foul stripe. Of course, that’d include dudes who played two total minutes after being called up from the D-League and got fouled one time ever.

But Mr. Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors should be applauded for his 98.05 percent shooting foul season record, one that could possibly never be topped. While taking it to the hoop to draw contact isn’t exactly Calderon’s M.O., he still took 154 free throw attempts in 2008-09. Not a big number, but he only missed three, making his record pretty impressive. In second place is Calvin Murphy‘s 1980-81 season for the Rockets, a comparatively low 95.81 percent mark.

Which NBA records will never be broken?

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