There are various historical feats in the NBA, but there are certain feats that leave you in awe much like the game in which herculean Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a single game, the quadruple double is just that.
The league has seen numerous cases of the double-double (easy squeezy) — in which a player accumulates double digits in any two of the statistical areas in basketball: points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks. – which is most evident in the points and rebounds column. For example, this past season Kevin Love led the league in double-doubles with 48, but since the 1985-86 season Karl Malone holds the number one spot in points-rebounds double-doubles with 811 (cumulative in the regular season) while John Stockton holds the first place in points-assists double-doubles with 709.
While the double-double is certainly an achievement especially if it’s consistently obtained on a yearly basis, the next milestone for any budding NBA player is the elusive triple-double. Obviously, a triple-double is accumulating double-digits in any three of the five statistical areas with it most commonly being in the points, rebounds, and assists areas. The highly revered Oscar Robertson was the man who averaged a triple-double during the 1961-1962 season and, of course, leads the league in all-time triple-doubles with 182. Jason Kidd holds the record of 107 all-time triple-doubles among active players.
Then we come to the even tougher achievement to bestow any NBA player: the quadruple-double.
As the name signifies, this occurs when a player accumulates double-digits in four of the five categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks.
While the triple-double seems to be a difficult thing to reach, its ions more achievable than the quadruple-double which dictates that a player be dominating on both ends of the floor (rebounds, points, steals/blocks), but not selfish (assists). This also would mean a player would have been equipped with great focus and restraint as they are rebounding the ball and blocking shots as not to foul out.
They have to be an all-around player, with an emphasis on defense as three of the four players whom have accomplished this has also won Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Basically, a quadruple-double is not easy.
Thus, it’s why the quadruple-double has only occurred four times in history and the last one being in 1994, but first let’s see when the initial quadruple-double occurred.
1.) Nate Thurmond: 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 blocked shots on October 18, 1974 during Thurmond’s first game as a Chicago Bull as the team defeated Atlanta in overtime.
It was also during the time when the league starting to keep track of blocked shots and steals which occurred during the 1973-1974 season, but the brilliant thing is Thurmond didn’t even realize the ground-breaking stat line he had acquired.
“After the game was over, I knew I was involved in a lot of activity but I had no idea how many assists I had or anything like that,” Thurmond said. “I didn’t know about what happened until about two weeks later. Back then, we didn’t really keep up with stuff like that, so that’s why I didn’t know about it sooner.”
2.) Alvin Robertson: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns on February 18, 1986.
Alvin barely acquired this grandeur moment as he grabbed his 10th assist with 35 seconds left in the game.
3.) Hakeem Olajuwon: 18 points, 16 rebounds, 11 blocks, and 10 assists on March 29, 1990 as the Houston Rockets defeated the Milwaukee Bucks.
However, this wasn’t Hakeem’s first quadruple. OH NO, my statistical craving audience, he actually had a quadruple-double – technically — earlier in the month, but the league rescinded it. When I say ‘technically’ it’s in a reference to the Rockets and the league disputing on Olajuwon’s missed assist from the first quarter during a Rockets-Warriors game 26 days prior to his official quadruple-double.
Rockets stated he did acquire a 10th dime during this game, but the league ruled it void. Hakeem was instead left with a measly line of 29 points, 18 rebounds, 11 blocks, and 9 assists.
As stated above, Hakeem would eventually get his quadruple-double, but it blows my mind that — relatively speaking — he had nearly accomplished this monumental task twice. And in the same month.
This just exemplifies how much of a beast Hakeem was and he admit’s how surreal an experience it all is.
“It is the hardest thing for an individual player to accomplish. When I was playing, it was expected that a good player, especially a big man, would get a double-double. Today, getting a double-double is considered special. When I was playing, getting a triple-double was special, and when you talk about a quadruple-double, it’s unreal. I still cannot believe I accomplished it.” - Hakeem Olajuwon
And he last time a quadruple-double was tabulated happened 18 years ago.
4.) David Robinson: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 blocks as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Detroit Pistons on February 17, 1994.
With a few minutes remaining in the game, Robinson would grab his 10th board and would be the 4th — and last — member of this quite exclusive club.
What about the “almost” quadruple-doubles?
Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers almost committed this feat twice within 2 weeks time and each time he was within grasp, but fell short by three steals. On January 14, 2009 against the Dallas Mavericks, Chris Paul accumulated 33 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, and 7 steals. He would come close again on January 26, 2009 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Chris Paul racked up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, and 7 steals.
Chris Paul wasn’t the only one that was an almost” holder of a quadruple-double.
- On October 29, 1974, Rick Barry: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, 9 steals
- On November 16, 1974, Larry Steele: 12 points, 11 rebounds,9 assists, 10 steals
- On January 8, 1985, Johnny Moore: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 9 rebounds
- On February 18, 1985, Larry Bird: 30 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 9 steals
- On October 30, 1985, Micheal Ray Richardson: 38 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 9 steals
- On January 10, 1986, Clyde Drexler: 26 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists, 9 steals
- On November 1, 1996, Clyde Drexler: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 10 steals
Before blocks and steals were put on record with the league, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain were those that, based on historians, racked up quadruple-doubles.
To be in the all-exclusive quadruple-double club, one has to be thoroughly talented and dominant, but also the right backdrop, team, and of course situation must present itself.
We haven’t seen a quadruple-double in 18 years — despite the close calls — for a reason. It takes the best of everything: player, team, circumstance to come together and develop into something historical and tremendous.
However, if any player was to accomplish such a feat today, who would it be?
Nate Thurmond offers an obvious suggestion.
“Kobe has an outside chance of doing it, but I’m going to have to go with LeBron. He’s going to have to do it with steals, though, because it’s very difficult for a 6-8 guy to come up with 10 blocks.”
Or the quadruple-double just might be something that remains in NBA’s past.