Dozens of NBA records are destined to live forever, and it seems most of them are owned by Wilt Chamberlain. He posted such insane single-season averages as 50.4 points and 48.5 minutes. He scored 100 points in a game and was greedy enough to retire with 23,924 rebounds -- almost 11,000 more than Shaquille O’Neal.
Many of the records not held by Chamberlain belong to Bill Russell, who once snagged 32 rebounds in a half, led the Boston Celtics to eight consecutive championships and own 11 rings.
For that reason, we’re excusing Wilt and Bill from the room as our, um, committee pursues the goal of identifying the five safest NBA records that rarely get discussed.
The countdown from No. 5 to No. 1 begins with the most “vulnerable” record and ends with the mark that can sit comfortably among the totals in what we call the Chamberlain/Russell tier:
5. Minutes in a regular-season game
Record: 69 by Dale Ellis on Nov. 9, 1989
OK, the game’s 73 minutes and five overtimes make it the longest in the shot-clock era. And, OK, Ellis’ Seattle SuperSonics were defeated 155-154 by the Milwaukee Bucks.
But 69 minutes is 69 freaking minutes. Ellis scored a game-high 53 points on 18-of-39 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep. His teammate, Xavier McDaniel, logged 68 minutes.
Only two players have labored beyond the 60-minute mark in a 21st century game: Vince Carter with 63 and Jalen Rose with 61, both in 2000-01. In the era of high-tech monitoring of physical exertion, no coach will allow a player to approach 70 minutes in a regular-season game.
4. Career playoff minutes
Record: 10,049 by LeBron James
This is testimony to James’ ability to find another level in the playoffs. And he’s still active.
That LeBron’s Lakers didn’t make the 2019 playoffs was of no consequence because he zoomed past Tim Duncan (9,370) and into the top spot the previous year. To put this into perspective, he has played more minutes than Patrick Ewing (5,207) and Pau Gasol (4,825) combined.
To surpass James, someone would have to average about 40 minutes per game over more than 250 games -- and that’s only if LeBron never makes another postseason appearance. Only retirees Derek Fisher (259) and Tim Duncan (251) have exceeded 250 postseason games.
For the record, Kevin Durant (5,598) is No. 2 among active players.
3. Career assists
Record: 15,806 by John Stockton
Stockton’s record speaks mostly to his pass-first mentality and his practically perfect synchronicity with longtime teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Karl Malone. The Stockton-Malone pick-and-roll was, for much of their long careers, the league’s deadliest two-man game.
Jason Kidd also had a pass-first mentality and also played forever, and still retired in second place, 3,715 dimes behind Stockton.
Only two active players are more than halfway to Stockton. Chris Paul has 9,161 and LeBron has 8,662. Both are in the all-time top 10. Both would have to average more than 10 assists per game, over 80 games, for the next eight seasons.
Let’s see if CP3 and Bron are still going at age 42.
2. Consecutive games
Record: 1,192 by A.C. Green
Green, a power forward that played most of his career as a Laker, was known for two things. One, he was a virgin among teammates with libertine impulses. Two, from Nov. 19, 1986 until April 17, 2001 he played every single game.
With training staffs often advising coaches to give players rest, it’s notable when someone suits up for all 82 games. Green played every game for 14 seasons in a row. He actually played 83 games in 1996-97 -- 27 for Phoenix and 56 for the Mavericks after the Suns traded him to Dallas.
The longest active streak is 304 games, held by Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles.
With teams looking ahead to the playoffs, there is more dedication to managing regular-season minutes. It’s a different mindset than it was during Green’s career.
There may be a better chance of a player remaining a virgin throughout a long career than playing 1,192 consecutive games.
1. Technical fouls in a season
Record: 41 by Rasheed Wallace in 2000-01
The most unbreakable record of all, held by the man synonymous with technical fouls.
Wallace was whistled for 38 techs the year before setting the record and 27 more the year after. When Sheed bumped it up to 29 in 2004-05, the NBA tossed him to its rules committee and urged it to do something. Anything.
The committee instituted another “Sheed Rule.” Going into effect in 2006-07, penalizes players that exceed 15 techs in a season, which Wallace did 10 times in a career during which he totaled 317 techs. No. 16 comes with a one-game suspension and a $5,000 fine. Every tech after that results in a $5,000 fine, and every two warrants another fine and suspension.
There is a reason why no player has since exceeded 19 techs in a season. Perhaps because they realize getting to 41 would require an extra checkbook, a mental health evaluation and a lot of cold stares from teammates.