5 unbreakable NBA Finals records
It isn’t easy making history. Just ask Anthony Davis. The Lakers big man entered Game 3 against the Miami Heat with his sights set on becoming the first player to score 30 points or more in his first three NBA Finals games. Instead, he got into foul trouble early, and only mustered 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. His disastrous outing was a big reason why the Lakers trailed for most of the game and eventually lost 115-104.
That record – and many like it – will remain untouched in this postseason, proving just how difficult it can be to leave an indelible mark on the NBA’s championship series.
We dusted off the history books and have identified five more unbreakable NBA Finals records.
Most minutes played in a game without a turnover: Dan Majerle (59)
Phoenix Suns guard Dan Majerle put in a little overtime at the office on June 13, 1993 when he logged 59 minutes in a triple OT win over the Chicago Bulls. Thunder Dan’s endurance is impressive, but he lands a spot on our list of unbreakable NBA Finals records because he didn’t turn the ball over once when he was on the court.
The three-time All-Star didn’t win a championship that year, but he deserves huge props for only turning the ball over 32 times in 24 postseason games. Now that’s the kind of player you can trust with the game on the line.
Most field goals attempted in a game: Rick Barry (48)
You know that guy at your local YMCA who never, ever passes the ball, even when he’s quadruple-teamed 30 feet away from the basket? If he had a spirit animal it would be Rick Barry. The Hall of Famer was an unapologetic chucker who never met a shot he didn’t like.
That was especially true on April 18, 1967, when Barry attempted 48 field goals against the Philadelphia 76ers. To put that into context, that’s 20 more shots than Nuggets forward Bol Bol took during the entire 2019-20 season. To his credit, Barry nailed 22 of his attempts and scored 55 points to lead the Warriors to a 130-124 win.
Most assists in a game: Magic Johnson (21)
Few players have ever been better at spotting open teammates than Magic Johnson, who dished out 10,141 assists over 13 years with the Lakers, and holds NBA Finals records for most assists in a quarter, most assists in a half, and most assists in a game. The latter occurred on June 3, 1984 when the 12-time All-Star racked up 21 dimes to power the Lakers to a convincing 137-104 victory against the Celtics.
Boston would go on to win the series, but Johnson’s magical display is one NBA Finals record that will likely never be broken.
Most free throws attempted in a game: Shaquille O’Neal (39)
Remember "Hack-a-Shaq"? The Pacers have been trying to forget about it for 20 years. Indiana sent Shaquille O’Neal to the line 39 times on June 9, 2000 in a feeble attempt to control the flow of the game and to limit O’Neal’s dominance in the paint. The big man responded by hitting 18 of his shots at the charity stripe and the Lakers pulled away with an easy, breezy 111-104 win.
The NBA is still full of centers who can’t hit their freebies (we’re looking at you Andre Drummond!), but this record is likely safe since most coaches now take their big men off the floor during crunch time to prevent the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy from being employed.
Most points by a duo in a loss: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (77)
LeBron James is used to doing all the heavy lifting himself, but the three-time NBA Finals MVP got plenty of help from teammate Kyrie Irving on June 7, 2017 when the pair combined to score 77 points against the heavily favored Golden State Warriors.
James finished with 39 points on 15-of-27 shooting, while Irving chipped in 38 points on 16-of-29 shooting. You would think that kind of production would be enough to win handedly, but only one other Cav scored in double figures and Cleveland lost to Golden State 118-113 to fall to 0-3 in the NBA Finals.