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15 NBA records that may never be beaten

by Lily White
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They say that records are there to be beaten. And, the nature of the sport being what it is, they very often are.

For example, LeBron James recently achieved the near impossible of beating Kareem Abdul-Jamaar’s career record of 38,387 points scored in an NBA career.

Abdul-Jamaar had been the points leader since 1984. The fact that he had led the way for so long shows just how hard it is to break a record of this magnitude – and only a player of the calibre of James could have had a chance of doing it.

There are plenty more NBA records set by some of the great teams and players over the years. And here are just some of them.

Individual player records

We make no apologies for the fact that one player dominates the individual records – Wilt Chamberlain. Arguably the GOAT, the stats certainly seem to back this assertion up. In fact, any team with him today would almost certainly look like a very attractive prospect when it comes to NBA lines.

In a career spanning from 1959 and starting out playing exhibition matches with the Harlem Globetrotters and ending up with the LA Lakers, his achievements were phenomenal, as the figures show.

Average Minutes per Game: Wilt Chamberlain  48.5

Anyone who follows the NBA will no doubt know that the game, in normal time, lasts 48 minutes. But, back in the 1961-2 season when Wilt the Stilt was playing for the Philadelphia Warriors his appearance in overtime meant he was able to average that extra 30 seconds. This was despite missing a full eight minutes in one game. Incidentally, Wilt also holds the other six top spots for minutes per game – with no serious rivals in sight.

50 Point Games: Wilt Chamberlain   118

A player scoring 50 points in a game is something to behold, and Chamberlain managed to provide this spectacle for fans no less than 118 times in his career. To appreciate the gulf that stands between him and the other greats of the game, this is nearly four times the 31 50-pointers that Michael Jordan managed to notch up in his own illustrious career. Of Wilt’s 50-point scoring frenzies it’s also important to note that in 32 of those games, he scored over 60 points.

100 Points in a Game:  Wilt Chamberlain

Our final Chamberlain stat may be the most impressive. On March 2 1962 in a game against the New York Knicks, he scored a round of 100 points, the last of which came from a field goal in the game’s dying second, bringing the final score to 169-147 in favour of the Warriors. The closest any other player has come to equalling this feat was Kobe Bryant in 2006. He managed to score 81 points against the Raptors. Close, but definitely no cigar.

Most Assist in a Single Game: Scott Skiles 30

Scott Skiles might not be the first name that springs to mind when it comes to record-breaking performances. But there’s one record that he holds and which will be very hard to even equal let alone beat. Playing for Orlando Magic against the Denver Nuggets in the 1989-90 season he managed an unbelievable 30 assists. Most point guards would be satisfied with their performance if they managed this across three games, let alone one.

Career Assists: John Stockton  15,806

But the undisputed leader when it comes to career assists is John Stockton whose Utah Jazz career spanned from 1984 to 2003. Picked up in the first round of the draft from Gonzaga he certainly repaid the team’s faith in him. With 11,319 assists up to the 2022-3 season Chris Paul may be catching, but he still has some way to go if he has serious designs on claiming the record.

Career Games Played: Robert Parish 1,611

Robert Parish’s record might not look so remarkable when you first see it. After all, NBA teams do play a lot of games across the season and players’ careers can last quite a while longer than in many other sports. But to put it into context, the nearest that his closest rival, Kareem Abdul-Jameer managed was 1,560 games. Even that veteran of the court, Karl Malone, only managed 1,476 appearances before he retired.

Most NBA Championships Won as a Player: 11 Bill Russell

Bill Russell could be considered to be the Tom Brady of the NBA. But whereas the recently retired Brady had just seven Super Bowl titles to his name, Russell managed 11 championships over 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics. His victorious years were 1957, 1959-66 and 1968-69. Up until the 1965-66 season teams only had to win two series to win the championship making it easier than the subsequent three. That’s why it’s a feat unlikely to be repeated in the modern age of the game.

Team and game records

There are also plenty of team and game records that are going to be fairly hard to beat including these five spellbinding stats.

Biggest Margin of Victory: 73 points Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder 2021

When the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled up in Memphis on December 2nd 2021 they can’t have been prepared for what lay ahead. The long and the short of it was that the Grizzlies enjoyed a 152 -79 victory over their hapless, but still fairly high-scoring, opponents. Jaren Jackson Jr was the highest individual scorer with 27 points from his 20.19 minutes on the court.

The fact that the previous record of 68 points was set back in 1992 in a 148- 80 victory by the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Miami Heat shows just how long the current record will probably stand.

Team Points in a Half: 107  Phoenix Suns

The situation has to be perfectly set up for something like this to happen. Luckily all the stars aligned for Phoenix Suns when they met the Denver Nuggets in the 1990-91 season. The first quarter was good with 50 points coming fairly easily, the second was even better with 57. By the end of the game, they had amassed an impressive 173 points with Cedric Cebellos scoring the most with 32.

Winning Streak: 33 Games in a Row LA Lakers

The 1971 season was a great one for the Lakers, as you can surmise by this almost untouchable winning streak on their way to the championship. Led by Wilt Chamberlain, yes, him again, and Jerry West, they became the most feared team in the league. Others have come close since then with the Warriors managing a winning run of 28 games in the 2015-16 season. But we’re not holding our breath for any current of future NBA team to make it 34.

Most Wins in a Season: 73 Golden State Warriors

For many teams, there comes a season when things just start to go right for them. A great example comes from the Golden State Warriors in their 2015-16 campaign. It began well with a 24-game unbeaten run and by the end of the season they had achieved a 73-9 record. The icing on the cake came when point guard Stephen Curry was named NBA MVP of the year.

Single Regular Season Game Attendance: 68,323 San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors

When they met in January 2023 it was the first time that the Spurs had played in the Alamodome for twenty years. It also broke the long-standing record for a regular season game previously set at 62,046 in 1998 for a game between the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Dome.  However, both figures were dwarfed by the 108,713 fans who attended the 2010 All-Star Game played in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.

Hall of Shame

Not all records are good ones or ones that their holder might want to shout about, but we’re including these three, all the same.

Fastest Foulout: 2 minutes 43 seconds Bubba Wells

The unhappy victim of this feat was Dennis Rodman in a 1997 meeting between the Bulls and the Mavericks. It’s believed that the Dallas coach Don Nelson felt that bending the rules might be the best way to neutralise Rodman. As a result, Wells fouled him once every 27 seconds for the whole time they were on the court together.

Most Technicals in a Season: 41 Rasheed Wallace

Never backwards in coming forward, Wallace had quite a reputation as a hothead. In the 2000-2001 season things boiled over and he was called for a technical foul once every other game on average. Quite some going!

Most Personal Fouls in a Game: 7 Cal Bowlder

It was only his fifth-ever NBA game when Cal turned out for the Atlanta Hawks in 1990 but he still managed to set an unrepeatable record. As most fans know, there is a six-foul limit in the NBA. But the hapless scorekeeper missed Bowlder’s sixth and it wasn’t until his seventh that he was fouled out of the game.

So there you have them. Fifteen fantastic stats that look like they’ll stand for some time to come – unless the sport continues to live up to its extraordinary and unpredictable reputation.

 

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