Basketball is known for having many of sports’ legendary records. There are records such as Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game and the Golden State Warriors’ 73 regular season wins that fall into this category. However, there are many other impressive, interesting, and, in some cases, perplexing records in basketball history that are rarely talked about.
Honorable mentions include the Boston Celtics scoring 173 points in regulation on Feb. 27, 1959, Rasheed Wallace earning 40 technical fouls during the 2000-01 season, and Andrew Bynum being the youngest player to play in the NBA, debuting at the age of 18 years, 6 days.
1. Lowest-scoring NBA game – Pistons defeat Lakers, 19-18
On Nov. 22, 1950, the Minneapolis Lakers hosted the Fort Wayne Pistons in a Western Division battle. The NBA was still in its infancy, and numerous rules synonymous with today’s game were not yet implemented. One such rule was the 24-second shot clock.
Knowing the defending-champion Lakers would be too tough for them, Pistons head coach Murray Mendenhall devised a plan to hold onto the ball for as long as possible, preventing the Lakers from having scoring opportunities.
This plan worked, as the Pistons held off the Lakers, 19-18. Hall of Famer George Mikan led both teams in scoring with 14 points. Fort Wayne won the game while going 4-for-13 from the field and 11-for-15 from the free throw line. After the game, Lakers head coach John Kundla said, “If this is basketball, I don’t want to be a part of this game anymore. Play like that will kill professional basketball.”
2. Most consecutive ejections – Don Boven, 6
Don Boven had a short career in the NBA, playing only three seasons between 1949 and 1953. He took advantage of his time in professional basketball by holding one of the weirdest streaks in the sport’s history. Boven was ejected from six-straight games during the 1951-52 season for the Milwaukee Hawks.
3. Worst playoff record – 1952-53 Baltimore Bullets
The Baltimore Bullets hold a record that will never be seen again. The Bullets finished the 1952-53 season with a record of 16-54 (.229 winning percentage). Despite this horrendous record, they were able to beat out the worst team in the Eastern Division, the Philadelphia Warriors, by four games, claiming the last playoff spot in the conference.
Baltimore would get swept in the Eastern semifinals by the New York Knicks, 2-games-to-0.
4. Most overtimes in a college basketball game – Cincinnati defeated Bradley, 75-73 (7 OT)
It’s surprising the college basketball game with the most overtimes had a score equivalent to a typical score found in today’s college game. On Dec. 21, 1981, the Cincinnati Bearcats traveled to Illinois to take on the Bradley Braves. After regulation, both teams were tied, 61-61. Each team scored two points apiece in overtimes one, two, four, and six, and four points apiece in the fifth overtime. Both teams went scoreless in the third overtime.
In the seventh overtime, Cincinnati bench player Doug Schloemer hit a jump shot with one second remaining, scoring the only points of the period and cementing the Bearcats’ victory.
The ball was held by each team for long periods of time in the overtime periods, as this game took place prior to the shot clock in college basketball.
5. Highest-scoring NBA game – Pistons defeated Nuggets, 186-184
The Detroit Pistons traveled to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Dec. 13, 1983. In three overtimes, the visiting Pistons defeated Denver, 186-184. This game set numerous NBA records, including the most combined points (370), most points scored in a game by a team (186), and the second-most points scored in a game by a team (184). There were also records for most combined field goals (142), most combined assists (93), and most players scoring 40 or more points (4).
Isiah Thomas led the Pistons with 47 points, followed by John Long (41), and Kelly Tripucka (35). Kiki VanDeWeghe led the Nuggets and all scorers with 51 points, followed by Alex English (47), and Dan Issel (28).
6. Most minutes played in an NBA game – Dale Ellis, 69 points
Dale Ellis had a long and lucrative career in the NBA, playing from 1983 to 2000 for six teams, including two stints with the Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks. He was the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 1987 and an all star in 1989.
The same year of his solo all star appearance, on Nov. 9, Ellis’ SuperSonics played the Milwaukee Bucks in a quintuple overtime loss, 155-154. Out of 73 possible minutes, Ellis played 69 of them. In this game, he scored 53 points.
7. Most fouls committed by a team in an NBA game – Utah Jazz, 52 fouls
On Apr. 9, 1990, the Utah Jazz traveled to Phoenix to play the Suns. The Suns won the game in overtime, 119-115, but that wasn’t the story of the game. During the contest, the Jazz set the record for most fouls committed by a team in a game with 52.
Three of the starting five for the Jazz, Thurl Bailey, John Stockton, and Bob Hansen, fouled out of the game. In addition, bench player Eric Johnson also fouled out for Utah. Karl Malone and Blue Edwards had five fouls each, while four other players committed four fouls apiece.
On the other side, Phoenix set an NBA record for most free throws made, sinking 61 of their 80 attempts.
8. Quickest player to foul out – Bubba Wells, 2 minutes and 43 seconds
Bubba Wells spent only one year in the NBA, but he set an interesting record during his short time in the league.
On Dec. 29, 1997, Wells and the Dallas Mavericks played the Chicago Bulls. Chicago’s star forward, Dennis Rodman, was shooting 38.6 percent from the free throw line at that point in the season. Dallas wanted to send Rodman to the line as much as possible as part of their game plan, and Wells was assigned to be the player to foul Rodman.
In the third quarter, Wells entered the game for the first time with the sole intention of fouling Rodman. Two minutes and 43 seconds later, Wells committed six fouls, fouling out quicker than any other player in NBA history.
This plan backfired, as Rodman went 9-for-12 from the line that night, and Dallas lost to the Bulls, 111-105.
9. Most points scored in a college basketball game by a player – Jack Taylor, 138 points
In the history of college basketball, five players have scored over 100 points in a game on seven different occasions. At the top of that list is Jack Taylor with 138 points.
During the 2012-13 season, Taylor was playing for the Division III Grinnell Pioneers. On Nov. 20, 2012, Grinnell assistant coach David Arseneault Jr. wanted Taylor to work out of a shooting slump in preparation for their conference schedule. That day, against Faith Baptist Bible College, Grinnell centered their offensive strategy almost solely around Taylor.
With the game plan, Taylor played 36 minutes, shooting 52-for-108 from the field, 27-for-71 from the three-point line, and 7-for-10 from the free throw line. He put up 58 of his points in the first half and 80 in the second.
Following the game, Taylor became an internet celebrity. He earned recognition from NBA players on Twitter, and talk shows across the country were talking about his game. He would break the century mark again the season after, putting up 109 points on Nov. 17, 2013, against Crossroads College.
Taylor graduated from Grinnell in 2015. After graduation, he participated in workouts in front of scouts, but he never played professional basketball.
10. Most consecutive free throws missed to begin an NBA playoff game – Nic Claxton, 0-for-10
In game four of the the Brooklyn Nets’ 2022 first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics, Nic Claxton broke a record previously held by NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal. However, this was a record that Claxton must have wished Shaq had kept.
During the game, Claxton appeared at the free-throw line 11 times, making only his last one. Starting the game 0-for-10 from the line set a new record for the most free throws missed by a player to start a playoff game, breaking O’Neal’s record of 0-for-8 set in the 2006 playoffs.
Claxton’s missed free throws were part of Brooklyn’s 116-112 loss to the Celtics, leading to a Boston series sweep.
When asked on TNT’s halftime show about whether he wanted his record broken, O’Neal sarcastically replied, “No. I want to keep all of my records.”
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