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NBA PM: Best Triple-Doubles in NBA History

Russell Westbrook has been amazing over the last month, but what are the best triple-doubles in NBA history?

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What Russell Westbrook has done over the course of the last month has been nothing short of incredible, posting triple-doubles in four consecutive games, taking a night off (where he only scored 43 points, hauled in eight rebounds and dished out seven assists), then putting up a fifth triple-double in six nights.

Even more incredible, however, has been the way Westbrook has been stuffing the stats. His triple-double against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 4, for example, included career-highs both for scoring and rebounding.

So where does Westbrook’s best triple-double rank among the most incredible statistical nights in NBA history? Here’s a look at the most impressive triple-doubles the NBA has ever seen:

Top Five Triple-Doubles:

#5 – Russell Westbrook (2015): 49 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists To be totally fair, there aren’t a lot of current NBA All-Stars that couldn’t hang a huge game on the Philadelphia 76ers, but this was a historically incredible showing that included career-highs in both points and boards. It also was part of the aforementioned streak of triple-doubles, which further cements its place in history.

#4 – Fat Lever (1988): 31 points, 16 rebounds, 20 assists, 6 steals – Believe it or not, Lever is actually sixth on the all-time list for most career triple-doubles with 43 of them over the course of his 11-year career, more than LeBron James or Michael Jordan. He also once had a triple-double with 23 assists, the most ever recorded in a 3-D. Younger fans may never have heard of the guy, but don’t be fooled by the silly name – Lever was one of the more underrated guards of the 1980s, as evidenced by this ridiculous triple-double and the other 42 he recorded before retiring in 1994.

#3 – Shaquille O’Neal (1993): 24 points, 28 rebounds, 15 blocks – The 28 boards and 15 blocks are both career-highs for one of the best centers in the history of the game, so to have accomplished them both in the same night is pretty unbelievable. That he added 24 points and logged a monster triple-double in just his second season as a pro makes it an even more memorable performance.

#2 – Hakeem Olajuwon (1990): 29 points, 18 rebounds, 11 blocks, 9 assists – One of only four players to have ever recorded a quadruple-double, Olajuwon fell one assist shy of being the only NBA player in history to have recorded two of them. In reality, Olajuwon finished the game with 10 assists, so when it had ended people thought they’d witnessed one of the rarest occurrences in the history of the game. However, that assist was later rescinded, and Olajuwon had his first quadruple-double stricken from the record, demoted to a mere monster triple-double. Thankfully, his actual quadruple-double came less than a month later, which means he was not only close to being the only guy to ever have two of them, but two of them in the same season.

#1 – Wilt Chamberlain (1968): 22 points, 25 rebounds, 21 assists – It makes sense that the guy who owns about half of the league’s most prestigious statistical records would also have been responsible for the craziest triple-double ever. It’s the only double triple-double in league history, if that’s even what we’d call a 20-20-20 game. Chamberlain was obsessed with stats while he was playing, so he was most likely well aware of what he was doing while he was doing it, but the fact he was physically capable of getting this done is insane. It’s hard imagining this happening again.

Honorable Mention:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975): 50 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists – Only once in the history of the game has a player scored 50 points as part of a triple-double, and this is it. It would’ve been topped in February of 2009 had the league not taken away one of LeBron James’s rebounds in a game where he also scored 52 points and dished out 11 dimes. But since we can’t count that, we turn to Kareem, who certainly is deserving of at least honorable mention.

Michael Ray Richardson (1985): 38 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 9 steals – This one also just barely the missed the list. Richardson was one of the league’s biggest tragedies; it’s crazy to think what he could have accomplished had he not lost so much of his career to drug abuse.

Larry Bird (1992): 49 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists – It took two overtimes to do it, but this game was nationally televised, and many call it Bird’s “last great game.”

Tracy McGrady (2003): 46 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists – Of all the big games McGrady had over the course of his career, this was the biggest.

Michael Jordan (1989): 47 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists – This was one of three times Jordan scored 40 or more points as part of a triple-double. Westbrook, for what it’s worth, has done that twice in the last month.

Vince Carter (2007): 46 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists – Jason Kidd also had a triple-double in this game, the first time since 1989 that two teammates recorded a triple-double in the same game.

Michael Adams (1991): 45 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds – At 5’11, Adams was the shortest player to ever record a triple-double, though Isaiah Thomas certainly provides hope for someone to break that record.

LeBron James (2006): 43 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists – Currently seventh in career triple-doubles, James will almost certainly move up the list before his career is all said and done.

Hakeem Olajuwon (1987): 38 points, 17 rebounds, 12 blocks, 6 assists, 7 steals – This is the closest to a quintuple-double that anyone’s ever come. Of course it’d be Hakeem.

Quadruple-Doubles

There aren’t enough of them to make a list, but here are the four quadruple-doubles:

  • David Robinson (February 17, 1994): 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 blocks
  • Nate Thurmond (October 18, 1974): 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, 12 blocks
  • Hakeem Olajuwon (March 29, 1990): 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks
  • Alvin Robertson (February 18, 1986): 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals

And finally, even though this one didn’t happen in the NBA, or even Division-I college basketball, this game from Manute Bol while playing Division-II NCAA ball at Bridgeport is pretty ridiculous:

Manute Bol: 32 points, 29 rebounds, 31 blocks

Eat your heart out, Wilt Chamberlain.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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