With Russell Westbrook and James Harden putting up outrageous stats on a weekly basis, the NBA is on a record pace for triple doubles in a season. Through Jan. 31, Westbrook had put up a league-high 24 triple doubles while Harden added 14, with the NBA total at 59. Including the playoffs, the NBA is on pace for 141 triple doubles this season. To put that number into context, there were only 79 last season and 54 the year before.
But every triple double is unique, from Harden’s 53–17–16 line against the New York Knicks on Dec. 31 to Shaquille O’Neal’s 24 points, 28 rebounds and 15 blocks against the Nets in 1993. With that in mind, here are the weirdest triple doubles in NBA history:
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, Apr. 11, 2016.
It should come as no surprise that Russell Westbrook, this season’s triple double king, put up one of the fastest in NBA History. In the Thunder’s 112–79 win over the Lakers, Westbrook reached the triple double mark in just under 18 minutes, accomplishing the feat in the first half. Westbrook finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists and one steal in 28 minutes. In his nine-year career, the Thunder guard has recorded nine triple doubles while playing 30 or fewer minutes. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Westbrook’s triple double was the fastest since 1955, when Jim Tucker recorded one in just 17 minutes for the Syracuse Nationals.
Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz, Jan. 18, 1985.
You’d think it’d be impossible to put up a triple double shooting 1 for 12 from the field, but that was exactly the case for Utah Jazz center Mark Eaton. Eaton shot just 8.33% from the field in the Jazz’s 127–122 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, yet still compiled 12 points on 10 of 12 shooting from the free throw line. Adding to his triple double stat line were 20 rebounds, 17 defensive and three offensive, and 14 blocks—the second highest total in a triple double since 1984–85. Eaton also added three turnovers and three personal fouls to his stat line, resulting in a paltry 18.1 game score and 84 offensive rating.
Jason Kidd, Phoenix Suns, Nov. 17, 2000.
If only turnovers counted towards a triple double stat line, then Jason Kidd would have been just the fifth player in NBA history—the others being Nate Thurmond, Alvin Robertson, David Robertson and Hakeem Olajuwon—to officially post a quadruple double. Instead, Kidd’s 14 turnovers don’t count to his triple double stat line, and they helped the New York Knicks top Kidd’s Phoenix Suns, 90–85 on a November night in Arizona. Since 1983, Kidd is one of eight players to record double-digit turnovers while also putting up a triple double, a list that includes Westbrook, Harden, Fat Lever, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley. Of the eight, Kidd’s triple double recorded the lowest game score, an 8.2 rating, while Harden’s 40-point, 10-turnover night scored the highest rating at 31.1.
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers, Nov. 2, 2013.
A quick glance at Nicholas Batum’s triple double stat line (11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists) doesn’t seem to show any oddities, but it’s not Batum’s stat-line that makes this this weird, it’s how the Blazers’ forward got it. The Trail Blazers had a victory in hand when they led the San Antonio Spurs, 112–105, with 3.0 seconds to play. But Batum only had eight points to go along with his 12 boards and 11 assists. So when Damian Lillard grabbed a defensive rebound and passed it to Batum, Batum dribbled upcourt and heaved a shot from just past halfcourt, sinking a buzzer-beating three to record his third career triple double. Batum, who was chided by the Spurs and later apologized for the shot, has recorded four more triple doubles since, none of which have involved a buzzer beating shot.
Bo Outlaw, Orlando Magic, Mar. 28, 2000.
Since 1983, the average player posting a triple double attempted almost 17 field goals. Some, like Westbrook, take many more, sometimes upwards of 40 field goal attempts, and that doesn’t even include free throw attempts. But that wasn’t the case for Bo Outlaw on March 28, 2000, against the Boston Celtics. In the Magic’s 122–87 win, Outlaw took just four field goals, and eight total shots when you include free throws, to post his second career triple double. Outlaw knocked down all four of his field goal attempts, and hit 50% of his free throw attempts to finish with 10 points, just enough to achieve a triple double. Outlaw is one of just three NBA players since 1983 to record a triple double while attempting only four field goals, the others being Draymond Green and Rajon Rondo, and nobody has done it with less. Outlaw is also one of just 16 players to have two or fewer total misses, field goals and free throws, on their triple double stat line since 1983.
Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics, Jan. 15, 2001.
Plenty of players have missed a lot of shots en route to a triple double, the most being Westbrook’s 32 misses (field goals and free throws) against the Suns in 2016, the only player since 1983 with 30+ misses. But against the Suns, Westbrook still shot at a 38.6% clip, and 44.1% from inside the three-point arc. Antoine Walker, on the other hand, in his triple double against the Minnesota Timberwolves, missed 24 shots, 20 field goals and four free throws. But the Celtics forward shot an abysmal 23.1% from the floor, 12.5% from beyond the arc and 63.6% from the free throw line. Walker missed 13 two-pointers and seven threes in the Celtics’ 107–102 win over the Timberwolves. Walker’s 25% effective field goal percentage is the second-lowest among triple doubles with 20 or more field goal attempts since 1983. Magic Johnson’s 1989 triple double has the lowest eFG% in that category at 19.6%, but Johnson missed 19 shots, five fewer than Walker’s 24.
Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers, Feb. 2, 1968.
While few full box scores exist from Wilt Chamberlain’s career, we’d be remiss to not mention what might be the greatest triple double ever. In fact, Chamberlain’s triple double against the Detroit Pistons in a 131–121 victory isn’t just a triple double. With his 20–20–20 stat line, Chamberlain posted the only double triple double, 20 or more counting stats in three of the five statistical categories, in NBA history. In his 15-year career, Chamberlain posted 78 triple doubles, including his transcendent moment against the Pistons. Since, few have come close to accomplishing the feat, most recently Rajon Rondo came three rebounds and two points away against the Knicks in 2012.
Anthony Bowie, Orlando Magic, Mar. 19, 1996.
Some players will do just about anything to record a triple double, and Orlando Magic guard Anthony Bowie might be the perfect example of that. Late in the fourth quarter, the Magic led the Pistons, 111–91, with the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt. However, Bowie’s line stood at just 20–9–9, needing a rebound and assist to complete the feat. So when he grabbed his 10th rebound off a Pistons’ miss with 2.7 seconds to play, Bowie quickly called a timeout. In the huddle, Magic coach Brian Hill, disgusted, gave Bowie the clipboard allowing the guard to draw up his own play to clinch his first, and only, career triple double. Bowie took the inbounds and passed it to forward David Vaughn, who dunked it, scoring his only points of the night and giving Bowie his triple double. Disgusted by Bowie’s lack of class, Pistons coach Doug Collins pulled his team off the floor as Bowie picked up his 10th assist, earning a $5,000 fine.