76ers second-year guard Shake Milton surprised the basketball world by leading his team with 39 points against the Clippers Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
Thirty-nine points is a lot in one game, but is it really? Thirty-six different players have reached that mark in a game this season, including such luminaries as Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre.
But Ben Simmons has never done it in his career.
This led me down an interesting path: are there Pro Basketball Hall of Famers who haven’t scored 39 points in any game? It turns out there are quite a few. Limiting my search to 1970 and forward, I picked out 10 Hall of Famers who failed to reach that mark in the NBA, beginning with a couple near and dear to Sixers fans’ hearts.
The long-time Sixer and member of the 1983 NBA Champs played in 1,101 games. He currently ranks in the top-15 all-time in assists and steals, but the four-time All-Star never scored more than 32 in any game.
He was known in his career as the Secretary of Defense, before Phillies centerfielder Garry Maddox. While the sixth-man on the 1983 Sixers was as stalwart at one end of the floor, he wasn’t called upon for much offense. His career high for points in a game was 33.
One of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, you would think he would have one game where he’d have enough putbacks to get to 39 points and beyond. Nope. The Worm never had more than 34 in a game. Cool bonus fact: his career high in rebounds is also 34.
Talk about Mr. Consistency. Worthy averaged a bit more than 20 points a night for SEVEN YEARS. But somehow, he never got to 39. He scored 35 or more 11 times! A bucket here or there, he would have done it.
His career was one fraught by injuries. He made two All-Star teams, and his Hall of Fame credentials are significantly based on his dominant UCLA career. Walton was a terrific rebounder, but topped out at 36 points in a game.
He made five All-Star teams, won the MVP in 1969, averaged 14 rebounds per game for a career that spanned nearly 1,000 games, but his career high was only 30 points! He actually had more games in his career where he pulled down 30 rebounds (four) than scored 30 points (one).
A member of the 1992 USA Dream Team that laid waste to the Olympic field in Barcelona, Stockton played in more than 1,500 games. But the 10-time All-Star never reached 39. His career high was five points short.
The Lithuanian import didn’t play in the NBA until he was 31 years old. His Hall of Fame resume leans a good bit on his international play; he was a six-time European Player of the Year. He had a solid NBA career, albeit marked by injury. His high water mark in an NBA game was 33.
Wilkes was James Worthy before Worthy was Worthy. Hovered right around 20 points per game for the better part of a decade, won three NBA rings, made three All-Star teams, but never broke the magical 39 barrier. He topped 30 points in a game 32 separate times.
Not really sure why Vlade is in the Hall of Fame – he never won a title, only made the Finals once, only named to one All-Star team. He was traded for Kobe Bryant on NBA draft night in 1996. And he never scored more than 34 points in any of his 1,134 career games.
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