When you look back at some of the most dominant players in the league, we have been blessed to watch some of the greats. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James deserve a tier of their own when it comes to greatness. However, that same tier would feature a heavy group of all-time greats as well.
Outside of their traditional season stat line, there have been some amazing single-game performances. While these haven’t all happened on the same night, their career-high signified a time where they were greater than the talent around them. Among points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, from guards to centers, these career highs will blow your mind.
When Iverson was in the midst of a scoring title, Iverson fueled his resume with a 60-point effort against the Magic in 2005. Iverson had already won three scoring titles and his final one featured his greatest scoring output. Later in the year, Iverson recorded 16 assists against the Heat. Iverson didn’t win the MVP award, but it looked like it at times.
Iverson recorded a career-high nine steals two times in his career. The last time came in 2002, where he recorded his third scoring title. His nine steals came against the Lakers. His career-high in rebounds came during his MVP season in 2001 against the Warriors, while his best in blocks came against the Bulls in 1998 when he was a young lad first entering the league.
Giannis nearly broke his scoring career-high in the grandest stage of all. In the NBA Finals, Giannis recorded 50 points against the Suns, joining him as the seventh player to ever accomplish something like that. Had he made one more field goal and a free throw, he could have had a career-high on the night he won the Bucks their first championship in 50 years. Looking back, he is probably happier about the ring anyways.
Last year was a great year all around anyway as Giannis tied a career-high in assists against the Spurs and steals against the Raptors. Giannis has reached his career-high in assists twice, while he has recorded five steals in a game eight times. His 21 rebounds came two months before his career-high in points in 2019, while he hasn’t recorded seven blocks in a game since New Year’s Eve against the Bulls in 2016.
Keep in mind that Roberton’s stats for steals and blocks are not available because the stats were not collected at the time. His career-high in points came against the Lakers in 1964. By this time, Robertson was growing into one of the faces of the league. Two different times Robertson recorded 22 rebounds in a game. He did the same with assists as well.
Robertson’s rookie season nearly saw him average a triple-double. That was not something he would do until the following year with the Kings. Robertson did most of his damage in the early part of his career. He would eventually win a championship in 1971 with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the second-best player on the team.
The way Curry just kept scoring last year left the entire NBA world speechless. Curry carried the Warriors to relevancy last season, which resulted in him winning his second career scoring title. While his April was historic, it was January that saw him set a new career-high with 62 points against the Trail Blazers. If anyone has a chance to make a run at Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game record these days, all money is placed on Curry.
Curry’s other career highs came when the Warriors were first developing into a dynasty. His 14 rebounds came against the Kings during his second MVP season. Curry’s career highs in assists and steals have been duplicated twice. Curry hasn’t dished 16 assists since 2014, while his seven steals came last in 2016. Curry has recorded two blocks 28 times, so the day he records three will be a true career high.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder was rolling in 2014, it was with Durant leading the way. On route to winning his only MVP award, Durant led the league in scoring, which featured his career-high 54 points against the Warriors. Most of Durant’s career highs came earlier in his career outside his 14 assists against the Knicks in 2018. His seven blocks have been duplicated twice, his last time was in 2019 against the Kings.
In 2011, Durant hauled in 18 rebounds against the Timberwolves. The way Durant plays these days, he will likely not see that record budget. As for his five steals, Durant has done that four times with his last time being in 2013 against the Nuggets.
The two career highs that stand out the most are his points, rebounds, and steals. All happened last during the 1989-1990 season, specifically in the calendar year of 1990. Olajuwon recorded 52 points against the Nuggets in April, while his rebounds last happened in February. Olajuwon has pulled down 25 rebounds five times in his career, which is crazy when you think about it.
Olajuwon also recorded eight steals in a game three times, while his 12 blocks have occurred two times, the last being in 1989 against the Jazz. During his MVP season and championship year with the Rockets, Olajuwon recorded 12 assists against the Warriors.
Raise your hand if your career-high is also an NBA record. If Wilt was here today, that hand would be long and outstretched. Chamberlain owns the single-game record of 100 points in a game. He recorded that on March 2, 1962, in what is the greatest single-season scoring season in league history. The Knicks never stood a chance.
As for his other career highs, steals and blocks were never counted, but those would have likely been a ridiculous number. His rebounding total came on November 24, 1960, when he recorded 55 rebounds against the Celtics. We will likely never seen another performance like that in our lifetime.
When Duncan was younger, he joined the 50-point club with 53 points against the Mavericks in 2001, the day after Christmas. Given that Duncan won MVPs, Finals MVPs, and championships after 2001 makes it a surprise that he never scored more than that ever again. The year before, Duncan set his steals mark against the Nuggets in 2000. As for the rest, it would happen in the latter part of his career.
The nine blocks occurred in 2007 against the Grizzlies, while 2010 was a special year for rebounds and assists. Duncan pulled down 27 rebounds against the Hawks, while he recorded 11 assists against the Warriors in 2010. Duncan would finish a game with 11 assists two times in his career.
The 90s were good to Shaq. In 1993, Shaq pulled down 28 rebounds against the Nets. It was one of those occurrences that made you feel like you were watching Wilt Chamberlain if you were old enough to remember. The same night, Shaq had 15 blocks in a rare triple-double that included blocks.
Three years later, Shaq tied his career-high for steals, a feat that he accomplished three times. Shaq would go on to score 61 points in a game against the Clippers in 2000. It wasn’t until six years later that he recorded double digits in the assists column, something he did against the Raptors in 2006.
The 80s were a decade controlled by superstar players such as Bird. The Boston Celtics and Lakers rivalry remains historic today because of Bird’s influence. His career high in scoring never came against the Lakers, which is shocking since the two teams met each other in big games often. Bird’s point total came against the Hawks in 1985, while his assists mark came against the Warriors in 1984. One of the four times he pulled down 21 rebounds came against the Lakers though.
His nine steals happened once, while five blocks four times. Bird finished his career with 59 triple-doubles, but given his tough defensive nature, it’s shocking that he never recorded 10 steals in a game.
When Bryant was scoring all those points against the Raptors in 2006, we all thought he was going to do it. He was going to break Chamberlain’s record. Instead, he finished with 81, which remains the second-most in league history in a game. Then, one month later, he set a new career-high in steals with seven against the Jazz.
Bryant recorded five blocks three times in his career, but the last came in 2001. His rebounding total came in 2010 against the Raptors, while his 17 assist night came against the Cavaliers in 2015. Given that the Lakers were a pretty bad team by then, it’s a surprise that his career-high came on a team that probably needed him taking all the shots.
We remember Johnson as the offensive maestro. His play in the 80s will always be remembered. While his 46 points against the Kings in 1986 are impressive, nothing beats the 24 assists he recorded not once, but twice.
The NBA record for assists in a game is held by Scott Skiles, who had 30. The common notion is that if Johnson couldn’t break it, then who is going to do it? Among other impressive feats are his 18 as well as his nine-steal game against the Suns in 1981.
The all-time scorer may not have ever been close to Chamberlain’s record in a single game, but he managed to score in big bunches more over time. His 55 points came during the season after the Bucks won their first championship. Given that Kareem played in the league up to 1989, played alongside Magic Johnson, participated with the Showtime Lakers, it’s a surprise that he never bested this career-high over time.
Another impressive mark was when he pulled down 34 rebounds against the Pistons. Kareem pulled down at least 30 rebounds three times in his career. His best mark was 14 assists when he played the SuperSonics. His offensive stats came with the Bucks, while his defensive stats came with the Lakers down the road.
LeBron owns some spectacular performances in his long career. That includes playing in the NBA Finals 10 times. However, none of his career highs came in the playoffs, nor the Finals. Instead, LeBron scored 61 points on a casual night in March against the Hornets in 2014, his final season with the Heat. It goes to show that you can have a great night any given day of the week.
That includes his 19 rebounds against the Hornets in 2008 when he was a member of the Cavaliers. Four years before that, he recorded seven steals in a game against the Grizzlies, as well as recorded his last five-block game against the Bulls. What is impressive is that LeBron has recorded 19 assists two times. The last came in 2020 against the Magic as he was en route to leading the league in assists with the Lakers.
In his mind, Jordan probably wanted to beat Chamberlain’s all-time scoring record, but it just never happened. Technically, Bryant has bested Jordan in that regard too. Jordan’s best scoring output came in 1990 against the Cavaliers, the year before their first three-peat began. Believe it or not, before the three-peat, Jordan was a true stat stuffer.
His 17 assists came in 1989 against the Trail Blazers, while his 10 steals came in 1988. During his rookie year, Jordan recorded six blocks against the SuperSonics, something he would never replicate over time. Jordan’s last career-high would come in 1997 against the SuperSonics when he recorded 18 rebounds. Jordan accomplished this two times in his career.