Aside from winning the NBA Finals, personal accolades that players rack up are perhaps the greatest driving force behind competitive edge. Truthfully, most players care more about what they alone can achieve before they think about what can be achieved as a team. Players such as Carmelo Anthony have even openly stated that the lifestyle a city can offer is just as (if not more) alluring than how much they can win. While the NBA has been harshly criticized recently for the timing, motivation and voting process of its highly coveted end-of-season awards (such as Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, etc...), in a way the truest legacy that players can strive for are historic league records, numbers that are etched in the minds of the fiercely passionate fans.
While most think those records carry a good deal of permanence, folks who have seen generations of basketball pass and watched the game evolve know good and well that a lot of these records are just waiting to be broken. It’s true! The fact is that many of the marks set by the NBA’s historic icons were simply symptoms of their time, or the way the game was being played. For instance, no one will ever know who the best deep range sharp shooter was before the invention of the three point line. Just the same, the year 2016-17 was indeed the year of broken records. This past season smashed records like a bull in a china shop, and it is definitely due to the intense and quick evolution of the game in recent years as well as the continued growth of the NBA on a global level, as more and more talents are ushered in from around the globe to compete in the NBA.
So buckle up and get ready to hear about some NBA records that no one can break, and seven that unexpectedly were shattered!
15 Unbreakable: Rasheed Wallace’s Technical Fouls Per Season
When it comes to technical fouls, nobody will ever be as rude and ill tempered as Sheed. Wallace was an All-Star and NBA Champion with a huge chip on his shoulder. He holds the unbreakable record of a whopping forty one technical fouls in the 2000-2001 season! This record is truly unbreakable now that the NBA began doling out suspensions for any player who passes sixteen in a season (starting in 2010). With this kind of limitation, it would be nearly impossible for a player to display such reckless abandon for their emotions as well as their wallet. While boneheaded technicals will always be in play, like Chris Webber’s famous 1993 NCAA Finals faux pas (calling a time out when his team had none), with the new limitations it would be nearly impossible for a player to even touch forty one technical fouls... that literally means getting teed up every other game for the entire season. And let’s face it, it’s 2017 and the world is only getting more politically correct. Rasheed Wallace will always be the king of the technical foul.
14 Surprisingly Passed: Top 20 in All Five Major Categories
The era of the Greek Freak is upon us. No, scratch that. There are a bunch of players these days that are downright freaks with their size and limitless mobility, agility and skill level. However, the fact that this record didn’t even exist before Giannis Antetokounmpo walked into the league back in 2013 is a testament to how insanely versatile players like the Human Alphabet have grown to be. Last season, Giannis was in the top twenty performers for points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Now, by the old standard this is truly a statistical anomaly, but with seven-foot plus frames putting the ball on the hardwood and running the floor these days, not only is it normalized, but there is no reason to believe this record is even set in stone. Not only is the record unprecedented as far as league averages, but only four guys in NBA history have even been able to lead just their teams in all five major statistical categories, including Scottie Pippen on a Jordan-less Bulls squad. Go get ‘em, Greek!
13 Unbreakable: Average Blocks For A Season (Mark Eaton)
Mark Eaton was a real headache for over a decade for the traditional NBA swingmen who made their bread and butter driving to the rack each night. At seven foot four, the center managed to shatter the history books by averaging an insane 5.56 blocks per game. That number (for blocks) is simply unmatchable. For one thing, Eaton played in a time where players weren’t nearly as crafty about getting off shots as they can be today. While offensive schemes would shift based on the team being played against, Eaton still feasted on feeble post-up attempts night in and night out, something that might be avoided altogether in today’s league. More importantly, Eaton’s number can’t be beat because while centres thrive in blocking the ball today, the ever-increasing athleticism of the average NBA player has made the centre position evolve in a way that has altered a big man’s duties to his squad. Simply put, big players can’t just hang around the cup and wait for easy swats anymore.
12 Surprisingly Passed: Highest Usage Rate (Russell Westbrook)
A lot of people fake the funk when it comes to usage rates, so to clarify: it’s basically the percentage of a teams’ plays made by a specific player. So if you divide it by an eight man rotation evenly (which will never happen), you are looking at about twelve and a half percent for each player. Having said that, in 2005-2006 a priming Kobe Bryant averaged an insane 38.74% usage rate which was crazy. This is a great testament to how the NBA is truly evolving and at the helm of that evolution is Russell Westbrook. This season he casually averaged a mind boggling 41.65% usage rate. It was truly like playing a video game on Rookie setting. This stat will be tough for anyone to beat again, especially now that Beastbrook will inevitably have to share some touches with his newest addition, Paul George.
11 Unbreakable: Career Assist Averages (John Stockton)
A lot of people think this one could easily be passed since it only takes one crafty guard in an ideal situation, surrounded by pure scorers, to possibly break it. But, what those people aren’t realizing is that John Stockton has an unprecedented and nearly impossible attendance record during his historic tenure with the Utah Jazz. Having missed so few games and played for so long, all while maintaining All-Star status essentially the entire time, Stockton’s gaudy career assist record of 10.5 per game becomes more unbreakable than it seems. Basically, the only way anyone’s breaking this record is if someone like Rajon Rondo enters the league, has a ridiculous rookie season averaging north of 11 assists per game, and then suddenly quits basketball for life. And even then, the record break will not be taken seriously at all in comparison to what Stockton has achieved. Game, set, match.
10 Surprisingly Passed: Most Three-Pointers in A Game (Steph Curry with 13)
Even though the record set by Chef Curry was only one three-pointer more than the previous record holders Donyell Marshall and Kobe Bryant, the reason this broken record was so surprising is because it came on the heels of Stephen Curry’s historic streak of consistent games hitting at least one three. Curry is truly the historic three point king. The record books are simply littered with his name. So when you think about the fact that he broke this record a night after finally missing a game in which he hit at least one three-pointer, it proves that he literally willed his way to setting this record. That in itself is surprising: Stephen Curry has literally been toying around with the rest of the league for some years now, and he can hit three pointers at will. It just isn't fair.
9 Unbreakable: Most Individual NBA Titles (Bill Russell)
This one is always met with fierce debate mainly because titles are the holy grail of NBA achievements. When it comes to rings, Russell is the top dog, holding a ridiculous eleven titles in his thirteen year career. The main reason why this is such an unbreakable record is that the NBA has much more parity across the league, ushering in not only world-class talents, but under a finer microscope than ever. With all of the money being dumped into the venture of creating a winning product by all the basketball-obsessed investors around the world, the chance of a team like the Celtics of the 50s being replicated and for one player to survive the whole era without trade or retirement is pretty slim. As far as titles are concerned, Bill Russell might hang on to this one for good.
8 Surprisingly Passed: Highest Average of Threes Made/Attempted By A Team Per Game
Just when you think that the Warriors own every three point record in the book... the 2016-17 Houston Rockets come along and destroy it for them. Yes, it’s true: this year’s Rocket’s squad was built on the three ball, and it worked for them! They made it all the way to the Western Conference Semi-Finals this season. But as the great Confucius would say: he who lives by the three... dies by the three. Okay, maybe it was Mike D’Antoni who said that one. Either way, the Rockets averaged 40 threes attempted per game this season, connecting on fourteen per game. That’s a lot of three pointers. To put it in perspective, they launched 46% of their shots from beyond the arc each game. This is what happens when you combine Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Lou Williams, Trevor Ariza, and of course "the Beard" James Harden.
7 Unbreakable: Consecutive NBA Titles (The Boston Celtics)
For the same reasons that Bill Russell’s record of NBA Finals victories is unmatchable, so it goes for the record of the Boston Celtics throughout the 50s and 60s. There is simply no way that a team could dominate for such a ridiculous amount of time in today’s modern and global NBA. Eight trips. Yes, you read that right. The Celtics went to the Finals an insane eight times in a row. If anything, people must have become bored by it eventually. Meanwhile, Celtic followers sealed a loyal fraternity of fan-hood that kicked off a rich history of success and celebration. Nobody can take this from the Celtics.
6 Surprisingly Passed: Most Wins in a Season (2016 Golden State Warriors)
Nobody thought that the 1995-96 Bulls could ever be surpassed, and while the Jordan-led Bulls made it look easy, the Warriors barely limped passed the finish line. People will forget because of how easy the Warriors make dominating the NBA look. But the Warriors did finally accomplish the 73-win season to the shock of the entire NBA world. Don’t forget though, they did lose two of their nine total losses in the final seven game stretch, with two of those games being battles to the final minute.
5 Unbreakable: Total Career Rebounds (Wilt Chamberlain)
When it comes to holding NBA records, Wilt the Stilt just may take the cake (although many will dismiss his accomplishments as a function the era he played in). Wilt holds some pretty incredible rebound records, including most total rebounds (23,924) and highest rebounding average (22.5 rebounds per game). They didn’t call him Wilt the Stilt for nothing: his height advantage in a world where basketball was still in its infant stages certainly gave him the ability to snag so many boards. But at the end of the day Chamberlain truly deserves all of the accolades for his rebounding prowess because he was just so athletic. Standing at seven feet and one inch, the man had a forty eight inch vertical... seriously!
4 Surprisingly Passed: Most Points in an All Star Game (Anthony Davis)
Yes, the Brow got it done this season in the All-Star game in front of his home crowd in New Orleans. No one should be shocked to learn that he broke the record of none other than Mr. Wilt Chamberlain. The reason this is such a shocking broken record is that there are always so many talented scorers showing up to flash their prowess during All-Star weekend... it’s barely possible to get enough touches for AD’s amazing 52 points let alone get the ball to actually go in enough to rack up the buckets. The craziest part is that Wilt’s 42 point record was nearly broken not only the year before by Paul George (41 points) but was also nearly broken by another member of the same roster that Davis set the record with... Russell Westbrook (41 points). Pretty unbelievable.
3 Unbreakable: Average 50 Points per Game per Season (Wilt Chamberlain)
Once again, Wilt proves himself to be the unwavering champion on NBA records. And this one is truly untouchable. In the 1961-62 season, Wilt was flat out unstoppable. The cool part of this one is that Wilt wasn’t just a really tall guy in a time when the NBA hadn’t attracted world-class athletic frames. The fact that he could get so high off the ground and was so incredibly agile made him an utter nightmare for opposing defences. He was a machine that year, and you might be hard pressed to imagine a scenario where another player has the opportunity to average that many buckets per game.
2 Surprisingly Passed: Averaging a Triple Double in A Season (Russell Westbrook)
Oscar Robertson’s triple double crown was thought by most to be a truly unbreakable record. In the very same season that Wilt the Stilt averaged 50 points per game, so did Big O average 30 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 dimes. Truly a remarkable show of athletic assertion, Oscar Robertson only has one NBA championship to his name and averaging a triple double was perhaps his biggest claim to fame... until Russell Westbrook came along. When Durant left town last summer people knew Westbrook was going to go nuts. But what he did was downright savage. Although the triple double average was only 30-10-10 (a bit less than the incredible averages of Robertson) the amazing fact is that Westbrook got it done in nearly 10 minutes less per game than Oscar did. Truly amazing.
1 Unbreakable: 100 Points in a Single Game (Wilt Chamberlain)
Truly the magnum opus of NBA records, it was a historic March evening in Hershey, Pennsylvania when the Big Dipper dropped three figures on (of course) the New York Knicks. The fact that he scored 100 points is of course the greatest feat at such a high level of competition we can think of. It is not only unbreakable for all the reasons that make Wilt a walking statistical anomaly, but for the sheer magic of taking it that far. He was the team. Only six guys scored that night, and the margin of victory in the non-overtime game was twenty two points. Maybe his scoring was a bit gratuitous, but even Kobe Bryant, perhaps the purest scorer of all time, could only make it to 81 in a regulation game.
While a lot of these records are unprecedented for their time in history, there is truly no telling where things can go with the leaps and bounds the game continues to make. While guys like Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and James Harden rule the day, there’s no telling what stars of tomorrow will come to give guys like Wilt Chamberlain a run for their money!