Because of last season’s array of triple-double records -- achieved both by Russell Westbrook and James Harden -- the accomplishment of nabbing a triple-double in the box score has become less prestigious and more common than it used to be years and years ago. Many triple-doubles in the past were orchestrated by the likes of Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Magic Johnson.
But which of them were the best of the best? The most impressive? You're about to find out, as we bring you the top 10 triple-double performances of all-time.
- Wilt Chamberlain (1968, vs. Pistons) – 22 points, 21 assists, 25 rebounds (only double-triple-double in NBA history)
- James Worthy (1988 NBA Finals, vs. Pistons) – 36 points, 10 assists, 16 rebounds
- Michael Jordan (1989, vs. Pacers) – 47 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds
- Shaquille O’Neal (1993, vs. Nets) – 24 points, 28 rebounds, 15 blocks
- Tim Duncan (2003 NBA Finals, vs. Nets) – 21 points, 10 assists, 20 rebounds, 8 blocks
10. Oscar Robertson (1964, vs St. Louis Hawks) – 48 Points, 13 Assists, 11 Rebounds
Due to incomplete and inaccurate box scores, as well as practically no existing footage from games back then, it's extremely difficult to determine exactly how The Big O recorded such a statline. We are only sure of one thing, and that is his huge effort was not enough to beat the St. Louis Hawks, as the Cincinnati Royals lost the game 110-118.
9. Russell Westbrook (2015, vs. Sixers) – 49 Points, 10 Assists, 15 Rebounds
Coming back to the hardwood after facial surgery, Westbrook put on a show against the Philadelphia 76ers. While playing over 42 minutes and hitting 16 free throws, OKC managed to take the game in overtime, 123-118.
8. Larry Bird (1992, vs. Blazers) – 49 Points, 12 Assists, 14 Rebounds
Bird was 35 years old on this day back in 1992, making him the oldest player on our top 10 list. After an incredible duel against Clyde Drexler, who dropped 41 points of his won, the Celtics got the win in double overtime. Bird played almost 54 minutes in this game.
7. Russell Westbrook (2017, vs. Nuggets) – 50 Points, 10 Assists, 16 Rebounds
Probably the most dramatic triple-double on this list, OKC was trailing by 7 points with just 57 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter against the Denver Nuggets. Westbrook's never-say-die attitude prevailed, however, as Russ achieved his 42nd triple-double of the 2016-17 season, passing Oscar Robertson and setting a new NBA record. He scored the last 8 points for the Thunder, including the game-winning 3-pointer with no time remaining.
6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975, vs. Blazers) – 50 Points, 11 Assists, 15 Rebounds
Abdul-Jabbar and his teammate, Kevin Restani, were the only players who played 40+ minutes in this game (both played 45 mins). Thanks to his efficient 60% from the field and over 87% from the free throw line, Kareem accomplished one of the most remarkable performances of his career.
5. Russell Westbrook (2016, vs. Suns) – 51 Points, 10 Assists, 13 Rebounds
In just the second game of 2016-17 season, Westbrook set the tone for the remaining 80 games. He became first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to record a 50-point triple-double. However, his shooting was very poor that day – he set his own record for most field goal attempts in a game with 44 (only making 17). Despite this, OKC won the game in OT, 113-110.
4. James Harden (2017, vs. Sixers) – 51 Points, 13 Assists, 13 Rebounds
On January 27th, 2017, Harden performed one of his many shows on his way to second place in MVP voting that season. Harden hit 6 3-pointers and 13 free throws, as the Rockets secured their 35th victory of the season, beating the 76ers by 5 points, 123-118.
3. James Harden (2016, vs. Knicks) – 53 Points, 17 Assists, 16 Rebounds
Fans who came to the Toyota Center on New Year’s Eve were able to witness one of the best individual performances in NBA history. Shooting guard James Harden became the only player in NBA history to achieve a stat line of 50+ points, 15+ assists, and 15+ rebounds. His 9 3-pointers were the main factor to give the Rockets victory over the New York Knicks, 129-122.
2. Russell Westbrook (2017, vs. Magic) – 57 Points, 11 Assists, 13 Rebounds
On this day, Russell Westbrook achieved the highest-scoring triple-double in the history of the NBA. He hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 7 seconds remaining in the 4th to send the game to overtime. His 7 points in OT were the main reason for OKC winning this game 114-106.
1. Wilt Chamberlain (1968, vs. Lakers) – 53 Points, 14 Assists, 32 Rebounds
This situation is a mirror image of Oscar Robertson’s game from 1964. We have very little information, outside of the box score, about this game. We only know that Wilt played the entire 48 minutes of the game, making 24 of 29 field goal attempts (83%) and that his incredible show helped the 76ers to destroy the Los Angeles Lakers by 30 points, 158-128.