Records are meant to be broken. This applies to all professional sports, as fans relish a player’s quest to make his mark in the record books. Before the dawn of League Pass or YouTube or televised games, fans could learn of a player’s dominance and value from the record books.
In the NBA, there is no one more dominant in the record books than Wilt Chamberlain, who not only holds 72 different NBA records, but also holds multiple records (second and third best etc.) within different statistical categories.
Fans are obsessed with records, particularly in the NBA. Below, we break down the ten most unbreakable records that have been set in professional basketball.
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Consecutive Wins (33)
In the 1971-72 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers not only made history, but also set arguably the most unbreakable record in all of professional sports, let alone the NBA. A team led by Coach Bill Sharman, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Gail Goodrich won 33-streak games starting on November 5, 1971, and ending on January 9, 1972 with a loss against Lew Alcindor and the Milwaukee Bucks.
What sets this particular record apart is when you actually break down the specifics of the Lakers’ 33 wins. For example, the ’71-72 Lakers outscored their opponents by 16 points during the streak, beating 23 of the 33 opponents by double-digits, and outscoring opponents by at least 20 points eight separate times. Additionally, the Lakers that year played in four separate back-to-back-to-back game sets during their streak and started their 33 straight wins by playing 8 games in 10 days.
Last season, the Miami Heat were a threat to break the Lakers’ 33 consecutive wins record by going on a 27-game win streak. The 2012-13 Heat passed the New York Giants’ (baseball) streak of 26 consecutive wins in 1916. The Heat hold the second-longest streak of consecutive wins in a team sport, and they were still 6 shy of the indomitable 1971-72 Lakers.
Most points scored in a game (100)
On March 2, 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors’ Wilt Chamberlain set the still standing single-game record for points by posting 100 against the New York Knicks in a 169-147 win at Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kobe Bryant has been the only player to get close to Chamberlain’s 100-point record by scoring 81 points in 2006 — itself a mind-numbing total for a contemporary player.
Chamberlain had already broken the record for most points scored in a single game (then 71) by scoring 78 points in December of 1961. There is no video footage of Chamberlain’s 100 point game, and no major press outlets were in attendance on that historical night in Pennsylvania. There are only audio recordings from the fourth quarter and the stories from witnesses of “The Big Dipper’s” performance, which only adds to the legend of the record-setting game.
Most championships (11)
When it is often said that championships are all that matter, the man with more rings than can fit on each finger is often overlooked. Bill Russell played in the NBA for 13 seasons and only failed to capture a ring in two of those seasons (1958 and 1967). In ’58, he was injured during the Celtics’ loss to Bob Petit’s Hawks, and in 1967, it was his first season as a player/coach after Red Auerbach retired to the front office. After losing in ’67 to Wilt, Russell came back to defeat him two more times as player/coach before retiring following the 1969 season.
Russell won eight consecutive championships (1959-66) with the Boston Celtics. In fact, the top eight players with the most NBA championships in league history all played during Russell’s reign in Boston. He is the epitome of a winner.
Best record (72-10 1995-96 Chicago Bulls)
In the first full season after returning from an unexpected retirement, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to the most dominant team performance of all time in the 1994-95 season, finishing the regular season with a 72-10 record.
That Bulls team, featuring Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman was also surrounded by by important role players like Ron Harper, Luc Longley, Toni Kukoc, and Steve Kerr. They started the season with a 41-3 record. Under arguably the most successful system of all time, Phil Jackson and Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense, the Bulls beat the record for most wins in a season, held by the 1971-72 Lakers (69-13). The Bulls went on to win the 1995 Finals, ending the season (including the postseason) winning 87 out of 100 games.
Highest points per game average (50.4)
In the 1961-62 season, Wilt Chamberlain broke his own record (38.4) for the highest scoring average for a season by averaging 50.4 PPG over 80 games with the Philadelphia Warriors. It’s a headline achievement in today’s NBA to score 50 points in a single game. Just imagine if that was your favorite player’s average now!
Chamberlain once again dominates this record, owning five of the top 10 highest single season scoring averages. Michael Jordan owns two of these records, averaging 37.1 points per game in 1986-87 (6th highest) and 35.0 PPG in 1987-88 (10th highest). The only active NBA player to crack the top ten in this particular category is Kobe Bryant, who averaged 35.4 PPG in the 2005-06 season — when he played alongside Smush Parker in the backcourt.