The NBA is full of rich history. And in that history are statistics. Now, while many of us argue the true value of statistics over a career and in the playoffs as a whole, there are some records of note that just can't go unnoticed and are given the proper respect at face value.
These stats transcend decade and era and are constantly, whether intentionally or not, on NBA superstars' lockers in paper form, just awaiting the deadly dart; a target to be destroyed and an entry into the truly elite.
A lot of statistics are nearly impossible to quantify: Do you cut off pre-modern and modern basketball at the merger date? Do you consider 50s/60s ball, when rebounds were averaged in the 25-plus, an exception and not the rule, as height differentials were in the extremes? Do some categories even count since they weren't even tracked until much later?
Some stats just can't be easily separated so, as a warning, some popular stats (both in a game and over the entirety of the playoffs), like rebounding or free throws, aren't in this analysis.
But there are eight NBA records that seem reachable to this day but have, for the most part, remained elusive for the NBA's elite. Will they be broken this year? We'll see. . .
No matter the era or the decade, Michael Jordan's 63 points against the Boston Celtics in 1986 remains the ever-elusive playoff-game record. And, as if Jordan's aura were protecting it from being defeated, 60 has only been breached one other time and current active players haven't even come close.
Of active players currently in the playoff hunt in 2011, Ray Allen scored 51 in 2009's epic first-round clash between Chicago and Boston (good for T-8th all-time) while Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki reached the 50-point plateau once.
Of active, non-playoff contenders close to the mark, Vince Carter (believe it or not), hit 50 once as well.
Allen Iverson, who is also on that highest scoring playoff game list (with 55), has the nearly insurmountable record of stealing the ball 10 times against the Orlando Magic in 1999's first round. Not only is he No. 1 in the record books (in the playoffs) but he is also the only one in double figures.
A number of former players have been close, notably Tim Hardaway (twice) and Mookie Blaylock with nine, but active players in the 2011 playoff hunt are a bit short, though their efforts aren't shabby at all.
Glen Davis, Derek Fisher, Shawn Marion, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki have all grabbed six steals in a playoff game. Who will be the next to get to double figures and challenge A.I.'s record?
Ever heard of John Williamson? Neither have I, but apparently he was a solid ABA star who played briefly in the NBA in the late 70s and very early 80s. His name was Super John, I guess, but not, I would assume, for setting the all-time playoff-game turnover record.
In 1979, Williamson turned the ball over 11 times in a playoff game while playing for the New Jersey Nets. Ouch. But, oddly, he shares rich company. While Dwyane Wade holds the all-time single-playoff season turnover record, many current luminaries are edging closer and closer to Super John's infamous record.
LeBron James (twice), Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and retired Penny Hardaway have all let possessions turn over 10 times in a game while LeBron (again), Carmelo Anthony and Wade have turned it over nine times.
LeBron (once again), Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Jason Kidd and DWade (again) have also turned the ball over eight times.
This might be a record Super John can keep if any of the current contenders above can help it.
Hakeem went for 92 in '94—blocks that is. During his first championship season, Olajuwon blocked the living crap out of his opponents. So much so, in fact, that the next highest playoff-total for blocks is Tim Duncan with 79 (-13) in 2003 (also a championship year).
This one seems as difficult as the single-game record for steals, but with uber shot-blockers like Howard, Josh Smith, Zack Randolph and, of course, Duncan playing this year, maybe it will be challenged.
Michael Jordan's 759 points in his 1992 championship run is enough of a total in the playoffs to lead all-time, edging out Hakeem's 1995 championship season (725) and Allen Iverson's 2001 near-championship season (723).
And while people feel Kobe Bryant is slowing down in his old(er) age, Bryant has produced epic point totals in his last two championship campaigns ('09 and '10) by compiling 695 and 671 respectively. His 2009 season is fifth all-time behind Jordan, Olajuwon, Iverson and (he might not like this), Shaq's 2000 championship season (707).
Kobe wants his three-peat and the six rings Jordan has, but can he break the point totals record too?
Even though Vince Carter and Rex Chapman share the record with Ray Allen, Allen's multiple games of nine three-point FGs is bound to be broken again...by Allen himself.
Current contenders Jason Richardson, Chauncey Billups and Celtic teammate Paul Pierce are second in the history books with eight three-point treys in a game and could give Ray's shared-record a run for its money...if he, himself, doesn't get there first.
Hakeem Olajuwon (1990) and Mark Eaton (1985) share the single playoff game record for blocks in a game with 10, which is incredible since, like Iverson's steal record, both swatters are the only ones to reach double figures in the category (for the playoffs).
But unlike Iverson's steals record, current and former associates of Hakeem's/Eaton's have been trying to break the record. Two-time (going on three) Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard has blocked nine shots in a playoff game twice (and he holds the official NBA Finals record for blocks) while Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning, Greg Ostertag (???), Hakeem and Derrick Coleman have also accomplished the nine spot.
Howard and Duncan, along with Shaq and Samaki Walker (???) have blocked eight, while Andrew Bynum, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Josh Smith have blocked seven.
With most of those guys in this year's playoffs, Hakeem/Eaton's record might not make it past 2011.
Magic Johnson and John Stockton were (and still are) two of the greatest point guards in history who made pass-first a necessity for on-the-rise point guards. And while the two are drastically different when it comes to playing style, both managed to corner the market for most assists in a playoff game.
If you look at those history books, Stockton and Magic appear at the top with 24 assists. But they also have provided 23, 22, etc etc etc. It never ends. Doc Rivers (22) and Steve Nash (22/23) will make an appearance here and there but Stockton/Magic rule the playoff assist ladder.
Old hands like Jason Kidd (19 in a playoff game) and young studs like Chris Paul (17) and Rajon Rondo (19) have made things interesting, but it will clearly take a lot more to knock the old guns off the list.