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01-02-2015, 11:03 PM
NBA: Something Special in Triple-Double Performances
By Henry L. Liao

A triple-double performance by an athlete during a basketball game is something special that it easily attracts a lot of attention from hoops fans.

For the uninitiated, a triple-double is accomplished when a hoopster collects at least a 10 in three different statistical categories. It can be in points, rebounds, assists, steals or blocked shots. A negative stat such as turnovers (or errors) is not included.

In the U.S. National Basketball Association, a triple-double has been achieved with regularity since there are 30 member clubs and more games are played (1,230) during a regular campaign.

Figures for points, rebounds and assists have been kept by the world’s premier professional league since its inception in 1946-47 (when it was known as the Basketball Association of America).

However, steals and blocked shots were not recorded until the 1973-74 season. For the record, that year’s NBA steals leader was a fellow by the “homonym-sounding” name of Larry Steele, a 6-5 guard with the Portland Trail Blazers while 7-1 Elmore Smith of the Los Angeles Lakers was the shot-blocking champion.

The origin of the term ‘triple-double” remains unclear.

According to some sources, it was coined by former Lakers public relations director Bruce Jolesch during the 1980s in order to showcase the multi-dimensional skills of Lakers playmaker Earvin (Magic) Johnson.

Others claim that it was Philadelphia 76ers media relations director Harvey Pollack who invented the term during the same period.

According to Pollack, Dolph Schayes of the Syracuse Nationals might have registered the first triple-double in NBA history when he netted 18 points, 22 rebounds (unofficial) and 13 assists against the New York Knickerbockers on February 8, 1951.

Since 1990-91, the NBA has averaged around 35 triple-doubles per season, or roughly one in every 36 contests during a traditional 82 games-per-club regular campaign.

On the all-time NBA career list, Oscar Robertson owns the most number of regular season triple-doubles with 181. Nicknamed the “Big O,” the 6-5 point guard is the only player in league annals to AVERAGE a triple-double for a single season, turning in the trick in 1961-62 when, as a sophomore pro, he normed 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in 79 games with the Cincinnati Royals.

Two years later in 1963-64, Robertson came close to another T-D season average when he chalked up 31.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 11.0 apg in 79 appearances with the Royals to earn NBA Most Valuable Player honors. He was only seven boards short of duplicating his unprecedented feat earlier.

So astonishing was Robertson that the future Hall of Famer posted a T-D right in his first-ever NBA game in 1960-61, a season wherein he averaged 30.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 9.7 apg in 71 outings and was named the league’s top frosh.

Other men to collect a triple-double with the fewest NBA career games include Arthur (Hambone) Williams, four games, San Diego Rockets, 1967-68; Magic Johnson, five games, LA Lakers, 1979-80; Cornelius (Connie, Hawk) Hawkins, five games, Phoenix Suns, 1969-70; John Wall, six games, Washington Wizards, 2010-11; and Guy William Rogers, Jr., six games, Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors, 1958-59.

Ranking behind Robertson on the all-time NBA career ladder for triple-double games is the 6-9 Magic Johnson, who produced 138 T-Ds during a distinguished tenure with the Lakers that resulted in five NBA titles.

Jason Kidd is third with 107. A two-time gold medal-winning Olympian (2000 and 2008), the 6-4 Kidd retired as a player in 2013 and secured an NBA ring with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. He currently is the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coach, having made his NBA mentoring debut with the Brooklyn Nets last season.

Completing the top five in career triple-doubles are the late Wilt Chamberlain (78) and Larry Bird (59).

Robertson also owns the all-time NBA mark for most triple-double games in a single season with 41. He turned in the trick with Cincinnati during the 1961-62 wars.

Chamberlain is in second place with 31 T-Ds with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967-68.

That being said, big men like Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Nate Thurmond could have actually registered more triple-double performances during their illustrious careers if only blocked shots were compiled by NBA statisticians during their heyday.

It was only in 1973-74 that the league began to record blocked shots and steals.

By the time, Russell, a defensive genius with immense shot-blocking skills, had long retired. The 6-10 Russell, who earned an NBA-record 11 championships as a player, hung up his jersey after the 1968-69 season.

Chamberlain, another premier blocker during his prime, also definitely would have gotten more T-Ds than what he officially has been credited for. The 7-1 mastodon called it quits after the 1972-73 wars, or one year before blocked shots became an official NBA stat.

That means the T-Ds that were officially credited to him were derived from points, rebounds and assists – an extraordinary feat for a big fella like “The Stilt.”

01-02-2015, 11:05 PM
2014-15 NBA T-D Performers
By Henry L. Liao

Despite their advanced age, future Hall of Famer Kobe Bean Bryant of the sad-sack Los Angeles Lakers and Timothy Theodore Duncan of the reigning titlist San Antonio Spurs remain a triple-double threat in the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) this season.

Through games of January 1, Bryant owns a pair of triple-doubles while Duncan has one.

Rajon Rondo, who was jettisoned by the lottery-bound Boston Celtics to the playoffs-headed Dallas Mavericks in a trade last December 18, leads the NBA with three T-Ds, all completed during his Celtics days.

Bryant, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams each have two T-Ds. Along with Duncan, Houston’s James Harden, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, and the LA Clippers’ Chris Paul have one T-D apiece.

There have been 13 triple-double performances in the NBA so far.

In his 19th NBA season straight out of high school, the 6-7 Bryant secured a triple-double last November 30 – his first since April 2, 2013 against the Dallas Mavericks and the 20th overall during his distinguished pro tenure – when he notched 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in the Lakers’ 129-122 overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center.

In doing so, Bryant also made NBA history as the first (and only) player ever to collect at least 30,000 points and 6,000 assists in his career.
The Philadelphia-born Bryant likewise became the oldest player in NBA annals to record a 30-10-10 game at age 36 years and 99 days.

Previously, Larry Bird held the distinction at 35 years and 99 days (Boston, 1992). Elgin Baylor also accomplished the feat with the Lakers in 1969 at age 34 years and 165 days and so did Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls in 1997 at age 34 years and 56 days.

Bryant produced a second T-D this season (the 21st in his career) when he put together 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds (to offset a nine-turnover game) in the Lakers’ 111-103 road decision over the Denver Nuggets last December 30. He is the third player in league annals to have multiple T-Ds in the same season at age 36 and older, the other two being Wilt Chamberlain (two with the Lakers in 1972-73) and Jason Kidd (two in 2009-10 and 2010-11, both with Dallas.)

At 36 years and 129 days, Kobe, the son of former NBA journeyman Joe (Jelly Bean) Bryant, is the second-oldest among active players to register a triple-double.

Bryant’s second T-D of the season came nearly 14 years (13 years/349 days) after the first of his career. Only four men in NBA history have had T-Ds more than 14 years apart – Earvin (Magic) Johnson (1995-96, LA Lakers, 16 years/109 days), Kidd (2010-11, Dallas, 15 years/330 days), Tim Duncan (2014-15, San Antonio, 14 years/255 days) and Mark Jackson (2001-02, New York, 14 years/33 days).

Duncan is the oldest active player with a triple-double when he chalked up 14 points, 10 boards and 10 assists in the Spurs’ 107-101 road triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies last December 5 at age 38 years and 224 days. It was the 7-foot Virgin Islands native’s fourth career T-D.

The distinction of being the oldest NBA player with a triple-double belongs to Karl Malone. “The Mailman” spent his first 18 NBA seasons (1985-2003) with the Utah Jazz but it was in his farewell campaign and solitary season (2003-04) with the LA Lakers that he delivered one historic triple-double.

On November 28, 2003, the 6-9 power forward collected 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against San Antonio to become the oldest NBAer to post a T-D at age 40 years and 127 days.

Malone is the first and only 40-year-old player to accomplish the feat.

With Malone as the oldest come Duncan, Elvin (The Big E) Hayes (1983-84, Houston, 38 days/148 days), and Kidd (2010-11, Dallas, 37 years/343 days).