A quintuple-double: the greatest stat of all time?

BOSTON - 1967: Wilt Chamberlain #13 of the Philadelphia 76ers posts up against Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics during a game played in 1967 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1967 NBAE (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

A quintuple-double in basketball is when a player achieves 10 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds, 10 steals, and 10 blocks. Stuffing the stat sheet in every column that matters has reportedly been done only once in the NBA and in high school. However, did the quintuple-double really happen? And will it ever happen again?

On May 10, 2021, Russell Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s all-time record for triple-doubles. Naturally, this sparked a debate. Many believe that stats are a testament to a player’s greatness, especially if they result in winning basketball. Others, however, see stats as a result of stat-padding. Accomplished on bad teams that make mediocre players look good.

Wilt Chamberlain’s quintuple-double

This would be a good time to look at the legendary quintuple-double in the NBA, rumored to have happened only once. When it comes to ridiculous stats, there’s one usual suspect who’s always on the list. Wilt Chamberlain, on March 18th, 1968, completed the only quintuple-double in NBA history. This is odd because the league officially began recording blocks in 1973, nearly 5 years later. Our only source of information for this feat is Harvey Pollack, a statistician working for the NBA since its inaugural year. Pollack recorded that Wilt finished the game with 53 Points, 32 Rebounds, 14 Assists, 24 Blocks, And 11 Steals. Pollack is also the only source for Wilt’s 100-point game, making the famous sign Wilt held in his post-game photo. Unfortunately, Pollack being the only source for these accomplishments means that the basketball world takes him at his word for it.

Draymond Green and other players who have come close

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While a few NBA players in the modern-day could have repeated what Wilt accomplished, no one has come close. A table on Interbasket contains a list of ‘almost quintuple-doubles.’ Clearly, the fact that players have been at least 6 stats off of getting one shows how difficult it really is. The list includes the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson, both of whom have a quadruple-double. Draymond Green, however, would’ve been the closest in NBA history had he managed to score 6 more points. Ironically, the lack of these points gave him the first-ever triple-double without at least 10 points.

Players who have a chance of getting a quintuple-double

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 23: Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards looks on during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers during Round One Game One of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on May 23, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The obvious contender everyone will rush to think about is Russell Westbrook. He is a stat machine and is currently having a historical season for an unprecedented fourth year in a row. However, the stumbling block in Russ’ attempt to make this statistical dream a reality would be, well, blocks. Westbrook has averaged less than a block a game throughout his career, with his single-game high being 4. Even if he manages to get the 10 steals required, it’s difficult to imagine a game where he’ll get the 10 blocks.

Point forwards like LeBron James and Ben Simmons should also be in the conversation. It’s easy to see them getting a conventional triple-double, but it gets a little harder after that. Historically, LeBron has been elite at defense, but his block numbers have been declining over the years, so the odds of him getting 10 in a game seem tough. While Simmons has more years left, it’s unlikely that he’ll put a game like this together.

The prime candidates are the centers, namely Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. Jokic regularly grabs triple-doubles, but his defense could be an impediment towards him accomplishing this feat. Unless he dramatically improves his defense over the next couple of years, the chances look slim. Joel Embiid is an elite defender but is let down by his ability to steal the ball. It would take a very special/unusual game for him to come close to getting a quintuple-double. However, they historically have the best chances, as seen when looking at the other names (mostly big men) who’ve come close to accomplishing this feat.

Will it happen again?

The quintuple-double remains one of the most elusive achievements in basketball. Though legends like Wilt Chamberlain are rumored to have achieved this in the NBA, it’s not officially recorded. The closest documented occurrence is by Tamika Catchings in high school, who recorded 25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals, and 10 blocks.

As the game continues to evolve, with players pushing the limits of skill and versatility, statically crazy games will come out of the blue. If a quintuple-double does happen again, it’ll most likely be from one of the players named above.

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