The triple-double is a unique statistic in basketball that is rare because it takes a very wide skill set to achieve it. Many NBA players excel at 1 or 2 aspects of a game; players who routinely get triple-doubles demonstrate their excellence in 3 aspects of the game. It may sound simple, but in a highly competitive NBA, being excellent in different facets of the game is extremely impressive.
How many 30-point triple-doubles does Oscar Robertson have? Oscar Robertson recorded 106 games where he had a triple-double with at least 30 points, which is an NBA record and more than double Russell Westbrook’s current record of 48. Westbrook comes in second place, with a wide margin between himself and 3rd place. Robertson played in the NBA between 1960 and 1974 for the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks. One of the greatest Point Guards ever, Robertson was extremely prolific and versatile. He was a triple-double maestro, recording 181 triple-doubles in his career, the 2nd most in NBA history. Robertson once averaged a 30 point triple-double for a whole season; in the 1961-62 NBA season, the sophomore “Big O” had season averages of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game.
What is a triple-double in the NBA?
A triple-double is a statistical achievement referring to when a player records double-digit figures in any 3 of the following statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. Triple-doubles are difficult to achieve, as it requires a player to play at a high-level in multiple facets of the game. However, in today’s NBA, with an uber-talented pool of players and team tactics that consist of “positionless” basketball, triple-doubles are becoming more common, both in frequency and the various number of players who record triple-doubles. The increase in the number of triple-doubles should not in any way diminish the difficulty of and the incredible amount of talent required to record a triple-double.
Who was Oscar Robertson?
Oscar Robertson was drafted in the 1960 NBA draft by the Cincinnati Royals, staying in the same city where he played college basketball. Robertson became a superstar as soon as he entered the league, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award and also was named to the NBA All-Star Game, in which he went on to win the MVP. He improved even further in his second season, becoming only one of two players to average a triple-double for a whole season, and he also held the racket for the most triple-doubles during the regular season with 41.
He continued to dominate during the regular season, and while he racked up the personal achievements Robertson failed to garner any postseason success, and in the 1970-71 NBA season, Robertson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after the relationship between Robertson and the Royals had soured beyond repair. Robertson joined the Bucks alongside star Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. A change in scenery proved well for Robertson, as he and the Bucks steamrolled the league during the regular season and won the NBA championship that year, Robertson’s only title. Despite continuing to play well on a strong Bucks team, Robertson wasn’t able to win another title and retired at the end of the 1973-74 season.
Robertson was a revolutionary player, showing off his versatility as a bigger-sized guard. He was an excellent scorer and playmaker, and could also pull rebounds like the best of centers. His versatility was best seen in his early years, as he would average a triple-double or close to it for his first 5 years in the league, which is still incredibly rare despite his feats being nearly 60 years ago. Robertson’s career averages were 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game! His illustrious career achievements include 1 NBA championship, 1 regular season MVP award, 12 NBA All-Star Game selections, 3 NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, 9x All-NBA First Team honors, 2x All-NBA Second Team honors, NBA Rookie of the Year award, and 6 assists titles.
Who broke Oscar Robertson’s triple-double records?
Robertson’s record of 181 career triple-doubles was thought to be one of the NBA’s unbreakable records, but lo and behold, it was eventually broken by Russell Westbrook. Drafted in 2008 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook had the right combination of playing intensity and freak athleticism that would enable him to record triple-doubles. In his first 8 seasons, Westbrook recorded an impressive 38 triple-doubles. However, in 2016-17, after the departure of star Kevin Durant, Westbrook became the focal point for the team, and his usage exploded: he recorded an NBA record 42 triple doubles that season, which led him to winning the MVP for that year. Westbrook became a triple-double machine, averaging a triple-double in 4 seasons out of 5 between 2016-17 and 2020-21.
In 2021, Westbrook broke Robertson’s career triple-double record, and as an active player for the Los Angeles Clippers, he continues to add to his number; Westbrook has achieved 198 triple-doubles so far. Alongside Robertson, Westbrook is the only player to average a triple-double for a whole season. In 2016-17, Westbrook averaged a 30-point triple-double for the whole season, his exact statline being 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game.
Despite the clear evolution in the level of talent the NBA has seen throughout its history, it is astounding that Robertson’s triple-double records have stood for as long as they did. Robertson was a truly impressive player, doing things that players decades later could even dream of doing. His track record of individual awards, records, and honors are a testament to his unique and dominant style of play, despite his relative lack of team success. Likewise, Westbrook’s ability to not only match but exceed Robertson’s record also deserves immense praise, and as an active player, he has the chance to further pull away from Robertson and become truly unreachable. When it comes to triple-doubles, Robertson and Westbrook stand above the rest at the top of the mountain.