20 Basketball Records That Are Hard to Break

20 Basketball Records That Are Hard to Break

Records are meant to be broken, but some basketball records are so incredible that we may never see any player or team break them. Just think about all the amazing performances and statistics we’ve seen over the past 75 years — the list goes on and on, it never ends!

Some players are known for their record-breaking capabilities more than others. Some records are easier to break than others. But then there are those basketball records that aren’t touched for 30, 40, 50, even 60+ years — the ones that we remember forever and never forget. 

Let’s be honest, we all know that rush of excitement that overcomes us when we realize a player is close to breaking a record. It’s something that dominates the headlines for weeks leading up to and the weeks following that record-breaking night. It’s what we all want to see.

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Which Basketball Records Are the Hardest to Break?

20 Basketball Records That Are Hard to Break
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You might be wondering which basketball records are the hardest to break — the ones that we may never see broken. Although it’s a little subjective and many people will have their own opinion, there are some records that stand out more than others when you think about it.

For starters, you shouldn’t overlook what Wilt Chamberlain was able to accomplish. He’s going to find his way on a number of the records we speak about below due to his sheer dominance night-in and night-out. There’s a reason he’s regarded as one of the greatest to ever play. 

With that said, there are also some names that might be more surprising than anything. Sometimes we forget just how dominant some players are or were, especially since we spend so much time talking about the same few players every single year. 

Without further ado, let’s go through our list of the 20 basketball records that are hardest to break. 

20. A Double Triple Double

Record: 22 points, 25 rebounds, 21 assists

Year Record Was Set: 1968

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Russell Westbrook (20 points, 20 rebounds, 21 assists in 2019)

Most players in the NBA struggle to get a double-double, let alone a triple-double. Wilt Chamberlain and Russell Westbrook are the only two players in NBA history to ever record a double triple-double with an incredible stat line of 20+ points, 20+ rebounds, and 20+ assists. 

19. Fastest Foul-Out By a Player

Record: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Year Record Was Set: 1997

Record Holder: Bubba Wells

Runner Ups: Ansu Sesey (4 minutes, 43 seconds in 2002), Mark Bryant (5 minutes, 24 seconds in 2000), Josh McRoberts (5 minutes, 25 seconds in 2009)

No player ever wants to foul out in a game, but sometimes you have to take one for the team. That’s exactly what happened with Bubba Wells when he fouled Dennis Rodman every 27 seconds until fouling out in hopes of containing the Chicago Bulls’ high-powered offense. 

18. Largest Margin of Victory

Record: 68 points

Year Record Was Set: 1991

Record Holder: Cleveland Cavaliers

Runner Ups: Indiana Pacers (65 points in 1998), Los Angeles Lakers (63 points in 1972), Golden State Warriors (62 points in 1991)

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Miami Heat 148-80 in a 1991 game that saw the Heat only score 27 points in the second half. The last team to come close to this record was the Charlotte Hornets in 2018 — they beat the Memphis Grizzlies 140-79 (61-point margin of victory). 

17. Career Scoring Titles

Record: 10 scoring titles

Year Record Was Set: 1998

Record Holder: Michael Jordan

Runner Ups: Wilt Chamberlain (7 titles), Allen Iverson (4 titles), George Gervin (4 titles), Kevin Durant (4 titles)

The NBA is a scorer’s league, but we may never see a better scorer than Michael Jordan. He was ahead of his time when compared to the players he matched up with, winning the scoring title 10 times, including 7 in a row. Kevin Durant would need to win 7 more to beat the record. 

16. Season-Long Free Throw Percentage By a Single Player

Record: 98.05% free throws made

Year Record Was Set: 2009

Record Holder: José Calderón

Runner Ups: Calvin Murphy (95.81% in 1981), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (95.63% in 1994), Jeff Hornacek (95% in 2000)

During the 2008-09 season, José Calderón made an incredible 151 of his 154 free throws, which comes out to 98.05%. That’s more than three percentage points higher than the next closest. Chris Paul came close during the 2020-21 season, making 93.37% of free throws.

15. Consecutive Games With a Three-Pointer

Record: 157 consecutive games

Year Record Was Set: 2016

Record Holder: Stephen Curry

Runner Ups: Kyle Korver (127 consecutive games in 2014), Stephen Curry (125 consecutive games in 2021)

From November 13, 2014 until November 3, 2016, Stephen Curry made at least one three pointer in 157 straight games — 30 more games than the next closest (Kyle Korver). Curry was on his way to beating his own record recently, but his streak ended at 125 consecutive games. 

14. Rebounds in a Single Season

Record: 2,149 rebounds

Year Record Was Set: 1961

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Wilt Chamberlain (2,052 rebounds in 1962), Bill Russell (1,930 rebounds in 1964)

Players today don’t rebound like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell did in the 1960s. When you look at the record books for most rebounds in a season, Chamberlain and Russell hold the top-18 spots. No one has come remotely close to Chamberlain’s record for nearly 50 years. 

13. Most Championships By a Single Player

Record: 11 championships

Year Record Was Set: 1969

Record Holder: Bill Russell

Runner Ups: Michael Jordan (6 championships), Robert Horry (7 championships), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (7 championships), Kobe Bryant (5 championships)

From 1957-1969, the Boston Celtics were unstoppable. Led by Bill Russell, they won 11 championships in that span. We could’ve listed his teammates as runner ups, including Sam Jones with 10 championships and John Havlicek (among others) with 8 championships. 

12. Field Goal Attempts in a Single Game

Record: 63 shots

Year Record Was Set: 1962

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Joe Fulks (56 shots in 1949), Elgin Baylor (55 shots in 1961), Rick Barry (50 shots in 1967), Kobe Bryant (50 shots in 2016), Michael Jordan (49 shots in 1993)

Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest scorer in NBA history, so it’s no surprise that he holds the record for most field goals attempted in a game. He shot more than 60 field goals in 3 different games. Kobe Bryant never shot more than 50 and Michael Jordan never shot more than 49.

11. Most Points By a Team in a Single Half

Record: 107 points

Year Record Was Set: 1990

Record Holder: Phoenix Suns

Runner Ups: Golden State Warriors (92 points in 2018)

In 1990, the Phoenix Suns played the best first half of any team in NBA history when they took a 107-67 halftime lead over the Denver Nuggets. They hit 17 of their first 19 shots, scored 50 of those points in the first quarter, and were led by rookie Cedric Ceballos with 21 points at half. 

10. Career 50-Point Games

Record: 118 games

Year Record Was Set: 1973

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Michael Jordan (31 games), Kobe Bryant (25 games), James Harden (23 games), Elgin Baylor (17 games)

That’s right, another record set by Wilt Chamberlain that won’t be touched for a while. His 118 career 50-point games is something we may never see again. For reference, Michael Jordan only had 31, Kobe Bryant only had 25, and James Harden only has 23 career 50-point games. 

9. Consecutive Games Played

Record: 1,192 consecutive games

Year Record Was Set: 2001

Record Holder: A.C. Green

Runner Ups: Randy Smith (906 consecutive games)

Perhaps no other player was more reliable on a game-by-game basis than A.C. Green. From November of 1986 until he retired in April of 2001, Green never missed a game. For reference, the longest active streaks are Justin Holliday and Mikal Bridges at 227 consecutive games.

8. Career Assists

Record: 15,806 assists

Year Record Was Set: 2003

Record Holder: John Stockton

Runner Ups: Jason Kidd (12,091 assists), Steve Nash (10,335 assists), Mark Jackson (10,334 assists)

John Stockton loved to get his teammates involved and he did it better than anyone else in NBA history. His 15,806 career assists are over 3,500 more than the next closest — Jason Kidd. Active players that are ‘close’ are Chris Paul (10,275), LeBron James (9,696), and Russell Westbrook (8,061). 

7. Rebounds in a Single Game

Record: 55 rebounds

Year Record Was Set: 1960

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Bill Russell (51 rebounds in 1960, 49 rebounds in 1965 and 1967), Nate Thurmond (42 rebounds in 1965), Jerry Lucas (40 rebounds in 1964)

We’ve already mentioned how Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are the best rebounders to ever play ball. Aside from Jerry Lucas and Nate Thurmond, they’re the only players to ever record more than 40 rebounds in a game — Chamberlain did it 14 times and Russell did it 8 times.

6. Technical Fouls in a Single Season

Record: 41 technical fouls

Year Record Was Set: 2002

Record Holder: Rasheed Wallace

Runner Ups: Dwight Howard (25 technical fouls, twice), Antoine Walker (23 technical fouls), Draymond Green (23 technical fouls), 

Rasheed Wallace not only has the most technical fouls in NBA history, but he set a jaw-dropping single-season record with 41 technical fouls during the 2001-02 season. Since then, the NBA has made it more difficult to rack up technical fouls like this, so the record will likely stand. 

5. Assists in a Single Game

Record: 30 assists

Year Record Was Set: 1990

Record Holder: Scott Skiles

Runner Ups: Kevin Porter (29 assists in 1978), Bob Cousy (28 assists 1959), Guy Rodgers (28 assists in 1963), John Stockton (28 assists in 1991)

Players have a hard enough time recording 10 assists in a single game, let alone 20. That’s why Scott Skiles recording 30 assists in one game is going to be a tough record to break. Rajon Rondo came close to that mark in 2017 with 25 assists and Russell Westbrook had 24 in 2019.

4. Blocks in a Single Game

Record: 17 blocks

Year Record Was Set: 1973

Record Holder: Elmore Smith

Runner Ups: Manute Bol (15 blocks in 1986 and 1987), Shaquille O’Neal (15 blocks in 1993), Mark Eaton (14 blocks in 1985)

Elmore Smith is one of the greatest blocking big men in NBA history. His 17 blocks in one game is a record that won’t be touched for a while, if ever. Several players have come close to that feat, but no one has recorded more than 12 blocks in one game over the past 20+ years. 

3. Consecutive Wins By a Team

Record: 33 consecutive wins

Year Record Was Set: 1972

Record Holder: Los Angeles Lakers

Runner Ups: Golden State Warriors (28 consecutive wins in 2016), Miami Heat (27 consecutive wins in 2013), Houston Rockets (22 consecutive wins in 2008)

The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold the record for most consecutive wins by an NBA franchise. They won 33 straight games that season and were led by Gail Goodrich, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Jim MacMillian, and Happy Hairston

2. Points in a Single Season

Record: 4,029 points

Year Record Was Set: 1962

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Michael Jordan (3,041 points in 1987), Kobe Bryant (2,832 points in 2006), Bob McAdoo (2,831 points in 1975)

Only one player in NBA history has ever recorded more than 4,000 points in a single season — Wilt Chamberlain. He averaged 50.4 points per game. In fact, only two players have ever scored more than 3,000 points in a season — Michael Jordan once and Wilt Chamberlain three times.

1. Points in a Single Game

Record: 100 points

Year Record Was Set: 1962

Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain

Runner Ups: Kobe Bryant (81 points in 2006), David Thompson (73 points in 1978), Elgin Baylor (71 points in 1960), David Robinson (70 points in 1994), Devin Booker (70 points in 2017)

If Kobe Bryant couldn’t do it, who knows if anyone else will ever score more than 100 points in a single game. It’s one of the greatest and most unbreakable basketball records in existence today. Even though the NBA is a scorer’s league today, it’ll be a while until this record is broken.

Basketball Records Are Meant to Be Broken

We can all agree that basketball records are meant to be broken, but that doesn’t always mean they will be. Some records are more difficult to break than others, whether due to how dominant the record holder was or how much the game of basketball has changed over the years.

Now that we’ve gone through our list of the hardest basketball records to break, we can truly start to appreciate how good of a player Wilt Chamberlain was. Of the 20 records we listed above, Chamberlain holds seven of them. He truly was great in every way possible. 

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With the 2021-22 NBA season just a couple weeks away, we will keep our eyes on some of the greatest players in the league to see if they can somehow find a way to break any of these basketball records. The chances are slim, but you never really know what you’re going to see.

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