NBA Records We'll Never See Broken
"Bryant will eventually own this record by a significant margin," Bleacher Report's Stephen Babb wrote. "He'll remain a central contributor this season, and it's too soon to say when he'll call it a career. There are plenty more missed shots in his future."
So as the Association continues transitioning into an era that's defined by more disciplined shot selection and precise ball movement, Bryant may very well cement his place on one of the league's more dubious leaderboards.
And with that framework in mind, we got to thinking: What are some other NBA records we'll never see broken?
Sticking to primary box score categories like points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentages, we explored some of the league's gaudiest single-game and career records, providing context along the way to reinforce just how unbreakable they are.
But as you read, you'll notice two fairly large omissions.
The first is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record (38,387 points), which was excluded due to the fact that we simply can't count Bryant out as he hovers at 31,920 points. Furthermore, LeBron James sits at 23,319 before his 30th birthday.
Additionally, the Chicago Bulls' 72 wins during the 1995-96 season were omitted. In the era of superteams and a rising salary cap, we can't discount the possibility of a team stacking its roster to an unprecedented degree and breaking the mark set by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Co.
Career Assist Total
Record Holder: John Stockton (15,806)
It took John Stockton 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz to compile 15,806 assists, but that record is not going to fall anytime soon.
Starting at the age of 25, Stockton entered an eight-year stretch during which he led the NBA in average dimes each season. More impressive, though, is the fact that his assist average didn't dip below 11 during that span.
But to gain a bit of perspective, we have to examine how far away the closest active players are to Stockton on the all-time assist leaderboard.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Steve Nash sits at No. 3 overall behind Jason Kidd with 10,335, and his career is most likely over after 18 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
After Nash, the closest active player is Andre Miller (8,174), followed by Chris Paul (6,184) and Kobe Bryant (5,954).
And even if we took a passing maestro like Rajon Rondo and generously projected him to average, say, 700 assists per season over the next 10 years, he'd still be more than 4,000 shy of Stockton's record.
Games Played in a Single Season
Record Holder: Walt Bellamy (88 games played, 1968-69)
During the 1968-69 season, Walt Bellamy actually appeared in 88 games.
How is that possible, you ask?
Well, according to Basketball-Reference.com, Bellamy appeared in 35 games with the New York Knicks before he was traded to the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 19.
Coincidentally, the Knicks' first game following the trade was against the Pistons in Detroit, so there remains a very good chance that Bellamy was able to set the record because he was already slated to travel to Detroit with New York. He even scored a team-high 18 points in that contest.
Then, with the Pistons needing to make up six games on the Knicks, Bellamy appeared in 53 games in the Motor City to accrue the record-setting 88.
Single-Game Assist Total
Record Holder: Scott Skiles (30 assists, Dec. 30, 1992 vs. Denver Nuggets)
This is the most mind-blowing record on the list, and not just because of the raw number of assists. It's because Scott Skiles, owner of a 6.5 assist-per-game career average, is the face of this title 22 years after shredding the Denver Nuggets to the tune of 30 dimes in a 155-116 Orlando Magic win.
Since 1985, only five players have recorded at least 25 assists in a single game: John Stockton (three times), Jason Kidd, Kevin Johnson, Nate McMillan and Skiles.
The last time anyone even approached that mark was 2010, when Rajon Rondo dished out 24 helpers against the New York Knicks.
And then there's the really crazy part: Skiles also scored 22 points (7-of-13 shooting) in that game, making him one of 14 players in league history to record at least 20 points and 20 assists in a single contest, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Still not convinced Skiles' performance actually happened? Here's visual proof.
Single-Season Scoring Average
Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain (50.4 points per game, 1961-62)
No one—and I mean no one—is going to approach Wilt Chamberlain's single-season scoring average of 50.4 points with the Philadelphia Warriors.
Make all of the Kobe Bryant-related jokes you want, but the raw numbers Chamberlain posted during that season haven't been touched in more than 50 years, and they won't be as long as the league is built around cohesive five-man units.
Just take a gander at some of these figures:
- During the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain attempted 3,159 shots.
- No other player in league history has attempted 3,000 shots in a single season.
- Only 11 players have attempted at least 2,000, but the second-highest scoring average among that group (not owned by Chamberlain) was Michael Jordan's 37.1 during the 1986-87 season.
- Since the three-point shot came into existence in 1979, only two players (Bryant and Jordan) have averaged better than 35 points in a single season.
Single-Game Scoring Record
Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain (100 points, March 2, 1962)
If one statistic defines Wilt Chamberlain's legacy, it's the 100 points he scored in the Philadelphia Warriors' 169-147 victory against the New York Knicks back in 1962.
"As time goes by, I feel more and more a part of that 100-point game," Chamberlain said more than three decades after setting the record, according to NBA.com. "It has become my handle, and I've come to realize just what I did."
Since the NBA started tracking points as a box score statistic in 1963, only three players have cracked 70 points in a single outing, while one (Kobe Bryant) has surpassed 80, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Furthermore, there have been only two 60-point games since 2010, and both came last season against the Charlotte Bobcats, thanks to the efforts of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Single-Season Rebounding Average
Record Holder: Wilt Chamberlain (27.2 rebounds per game, 1960-61)
Wilt Chamberlain averaged better than 20 rebounds 10 times during his illustrious career, but the 27.2 he pulled down per game during the 1960-61 season should remain etched into the league record books forever.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, there have been 25 occurrences of a player averaging at least 20 rebounds for a single season. Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell combined to record 20 of them.
And since 1979, the 15-rebound-per-game threshold has been crossed just nine times, with Dennis Rodman topping out at 18.7 rebounds per game during the 1991-92 season with the Detroit Pistons.
Kevin Love became the most recent entrant into that club by pulling down 15.2 rebounds per game with the Minnesota Timberwolves five seasons ago.
Single-Season Free-Throw Percentage
Record Holder: Jose Calderon (98.1 percent, 2008-09 season)
Jose Calderon set the single-season record for free-throw percentage by knocking down 98.1 percent of his freebies during the Toronto Raptors' 2008-09 campaign. And while you may be asking how no one has topped that mark since, minimum qualifications need to be met in order to appear on the leaderboard.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the minimum number of free throws a player needed to attempt in order to qualify between 1999-2000 and 2010-11 was 125 before the total dipped to 100 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. During his record-setting season, Calderon attempted 154 shots from the charity stripe and nailed 151.
In league history, only five players have topped 95 percent shooting from the line for a single season. Coincidentally, Ray Allen became one of those five players the same year Calderon set the league record.
A one-time member of the esteemed 50-40-90 club, Calderon has quietly been one of the NBA's most efficient players over the past decade.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.