LeBron James, the Miami Heat ‘point forward,’ will have the opportunity to etch his name in the annals of NBA history. James could become only the second player to ever average a triple-double for an entire season.
Only once has a player ever averaged a triple-double over the course of an entire season. Oscar Robertson, also known as the “Big O,” finished his second season (1961-62) with an average of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game.
For historical context, the record for most triple-doubles accrued by a player over the course of a career in the National Basketball Association belongs to Hall of Fame legend Oscar Robertson with 181. Among active NBA players, 18-year veteran Jason Kidd has the most with 107.
Over the past nine years, pundits have often opined:
“This could be the year.”
“This won’t be the year.”
“It will never happen.”
There are few debates—relative to any player—that consistently persist throughout their career as much as this one: “Can LeBron James average a triple-double for an entire season?”
In a January 2004 column for ESPN’s Page 2—now detailed in his New York Times’ bestseller, The Book of Basketball—Bill Simmons wrote:
“When LeBron hits his prime and finally gets surrounded by quality shooters and big guys who run the floor, he’ll toss up a triple-double for an entire season. Comfortably. We’re talking 33/12/13 every night. LeBron sees everything in slow motion; he’s always thinking two moves ahead, like he’s playing chess…Not since Magic or Bird has someone connected with teammates like this.”
The way Simmons wrote that first line, he could have been seeing eight years into the future. However, due to the Cleveland Cavaliers' perpetual struggles to build a quality team around LeBron, Simmons later retracted his opinion that James could do it.
Few talking heads give cogent arguments one way or the other. Most bloggers, would-be writers and some journalists venture to pose the question and find a way to assert that it won’t happen. This is not without good reason, since only one person has accomplished the feat. Generally, all they do is throw a few stats at readers and proclaim the argument dead.
Not this writer.
This argument is not dead. If anything, new circumstantial evidence lends credence to the idea that LeBron could actually accomplish this exploit in the upcoming 2012-13 NBA season.