NBA

Ten NBA records that might never be broken: Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar...

Following the Memphis Grizzlies' historic thrashing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, we look at a number of NBA records that will be extremely tough to beat.

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Ten NBA records that might never be broken: Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar...
Thearon W. Henderson AFP

The Memphis Grizzlies’ 152-79 thumping of the Oklahoma City Thunder is a new NBA record: never before had a team won by a margin of over 70 points. It’s a historic result that leads us to wonder: what other major records are waiting to be broken in the US’ elite basketball league?

1. Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game

On 2 March 1962, NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain racked up 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks, in a game that finished up with the incredible scoreline of 169-147. Only one player, Kobe Bryant, has managed to even get close to Chamberlain’s memorable points haul. On 22 January 2006, Bryant scored 81 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 122-104 win over the Toronto Raptors.

2. Russell Westbrook's triple-double average

Point guard Russell Westbrook had Oscar Robertson’s triple-double average in his sights. In the 1961/62 season, Cincinnati Royals Robertson great managed 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists - and Westbrook not only repeated the feat, but has now done so on a total of four occasions in his career: 31.6+10.7+10.4 in 2016/17; 25.4+10.1+10.3 in 2017/18; 22.9+11.1+10.7 in 2018/19; and 22.2+11.5+11.7 in 2020/21.

3. The Warriors' 73 regular-season wins

In 1995/96, the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman achieved a regular-season record of 72 wins and just 10 defeats. That first year following Jordan’s return from baseball seemed set fair never to be repeated by any franchise… but the Golden State Warriors had other ideas. Although they missed out on the championship ring, their 2015/16 season will go down in history as the year Steph Curry and Co went 73-9 to better the Bulls’ mark.

4. The Lakers' 33 straight wins

From 5 November 1971 to 7 January 1972, the Los Angeles Lakers of Chamberlain, Pat Riley and Jerry West put together a run of 33 straight wins, a streak that only the Milwaukee Bucks of Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were able to halt. The team that has come closest to the Lakers’ record is the Golden State Warriors of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. In a sequence that straddled two seasons, they got to 28 between 9 April 2015 and 11 December 2015.

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points

Bucks and Lakers legend Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 38,387 points, a figure that remains the highest in NBA history. He reached the total courtesy of 6,712 successful free throws and 15,837 field goals, of which only one was a three-pointer. Currently, only LeBron James is anywhere near beating Abdul-Jabbar’s mark: James is third on the all-time scoring list, with 35,651 points.

6. Abdul-Jabbar's six MVP awards

Abdul-Jabbar boasts an enviable list of honours, not only collective but also individual. He amassed six regular-season MVP awards - three each with the Bucks and the Lakers. That number hasn’t been equalled by any other NBA player, although Michael Jordan and Bill Russell both came close, winning five each. Behind Jordan and Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James both have four. James is the only one of these four men still playing and, therefore, the only one with a shot of catching Abdul-Jabbar.

7. Scott Skiles' 30 assists

Now the Orlando Magic head coach, Scott Skiles finished his playing career with an unremarkable average of 6.5 assists per game. However, he is the holder of the record for the most in a single match, having managed 30 in 44 minutes of court time on 30 December 1990, in his second season as a player with the Magic. The victims? A Denver Nuggets team that was on the end of a 39-point defeat (155-116).

8. Chamberlain's 55 rebounds

On 24 November 1960, one of the longest-standing records in the NBA was established, and again Wilt Chamberlain is the man in possession. The Philadelphia Warriors player amassed 55 rebounds (of which 31 came in the first half) in a game against the Boston Celtics, which the men from Massachusetts won by three points. The list of the top five rebound hauls in the NBA is dominated by Chamberlain and Bill Russell, with the latter registering the three next-best displays (51, 49 and 49).

Michael Jordan finished his NBA career with a record 30.1 points per game.

9. Michael Jordan's 30.1 points per game

Michael Jordan is considered by many as the best player in history - a status which, among other things, he earned through his boundless scoring ability. The Chicago Bulls great finished his career (15 seasons, two of which with the Washington Wizards) with an average of 30.1 points per game. Right now, only two players are in a position to equal that: Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who have averages of 27.1 and 27, respectively, and sit fourth and sixth in the all-time points-per-game charts.

10. The Grizzlies' 73-point win over Oklahoma City

On Thursday, the Memphis Grizzlies registered the biggest win in NBA history, crushing the Oklahoma City Thunder by a 73-point margin in a humiliating 152-79 victory. The previous largest win in the league dated back almost exactly 30 years, to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 68-point triumph over the Miami Heat on 17 December 1991 (148-80).