The NBA record book might as well be called The Biography of Wilt Chamberlain. He’s the king of putting up unprecedented numbers and reaching thresholds that to this day swirl in the sphere of unbreakable. One of those was set on this very date, sixty years ago, against none other than Bill Russell.
Call me crazy, but this one might be set in stone. Since ’73, no one was able to break the 40-rebound mark. The last time we saw a player reach 30 was in ’10 when Kevin Love grabbed 31 rebounds in the Timberwolves‘ 112-103 win against the Knicks. Reaching 55 is far-fetched, to say the least, and it seems like a single-game record for rebounds will forever be linked to Chamberlain.
But despite him dominating the list of the NBA’s unbreakable records, there are still some that aren’t related to Wilt the Stilt. One of those has Walt Bellamy’s name to it, and with the way the league is constructed today, this also might be the one that may never be broken.
I’m talking about his 88 games regular-season from 68/69, to this day, most games played in a single NBA campaign, not taking into account the postseason. Such aberration was a by-product of a trade that sent Bellamy to the Pistons after starting the season with the Knicks and playing the first 35 games in New York. At the time of the trade, the Knicks had played six more games than Detroit, meaning that the Pistons had some catching up to do. The catching up part caused Bellamy to play in 6 additional regular-season games, as he set a precedent that is yet to be reached by any of his NBA heirs.
The one who came the closest to breaking it was Tom Henderson, who played 87 games in the merger year. After that, 14 more NBA players exceeded the 82-game schedule, with Thurl Bailey being the last one to do it. However, his 84 games played in the 91/92 NBA season weren’t enough for his name to be written as the new record holder. It’s still Walt Bellamy, and to be honest, it’ll probably forever be Walt Bellamy.
NBA schedules are much more balanced today, and the likelihood of one team being six games ahead over another is small. It also seems inevitable for the NBA to eventually shorten the regular season. If that’s the case, anyone reaching 88 is off the table. But even if the NBA sticks to the 82-games schedule, I still don’t see anyone doing it. Especially with the whole load managing culture taking over the league. Very few are willing to play a full schedule. Playing extra games on top of that seems to be off-limits for your average NBA player today.
That’s why, on the list of the NBA’s unbreakable records, this one may be the hardest one to break. Courtesy of Walt Bellamy.