A triple-double is when a player gets to double-digits in three of the five categories in a game. The five categories are points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. The most popular way to get to a triple-double is through points, rebounds and assists. It is an incredible achievement and speaks about the overall game of the player, contributing in every way possible.
Some great players might have a day-off and might not explode for 20 or 30 points, but can assist someone else score and if he cannot get it going on offensive end, he can get some rebounds ( offensive/defensive ) and contribute on the defensive end.
While this is understandable, there are some players in the NBA who are known to consistently contribute in all the ways possible. They score a lot of points, get a lot of assists and rebounds. Getting to a triple-double takes a heavy toll on the body and the players need to have a lot of stamina and energy to be able to get there along with the overall skill and game vision.
Also read: Players who have recorded a Quadruple-Double
Here, we look at top 10 players on the list of triple-double leaders in the NBA regular season history.
# 10 Bob Cousy
A 6-time NBA Champion, Bob Cousy played Point Guard for the Boston Celtics and was known for his excellent ability to make the teammates around him better. He was a 13-time consecutive All-Star. Bob led the league in assists for 8 consecutive seasons. He was known for his dribbling and passing skills and the home crowd cheered him with "Mr. Basketball" chants.
Bob Cousy won the MVP award in the 1957 NBA season. He was a 2-time All-Star Game MVP, 10-time All-NBA First Team and 2-time All-NBA Second Team. In his 13 full seasons, all with the Boston Celtics, Cousy scored 16960 points, 4786 rebounds and 6955 assists.
While it is understandable that a passer and dribbler as skilled as Cousey has a lot of double-doubles, he rebounded well enough to and has 33-triple doubles in the NBA.
#9 James Harden
James Harden is one of the finest players in basketball. He is a 6-time NBA All-Star, 4-time NBA All-Star First Team and All-NBA Third Team. He also won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden was 2nd in MVP voting in 2014-15, 2016-17 and is the MVP frontrunner for 2017-18 season after scoring 30.4 points per game. This is his first scoring title. Also, he became the first player to win the scoring title the season after leading it in assists.
James Harden is one of the most unguardable players in the history of NBA. The speed with which he dribbles the ball and beats the defender is mind-boggling. He had 22 triple-doubles in the 2016-17 season and finished second on the ladder that season. Harden is #9 on the list of triple-double leaders in NBA with 35.
#8 Fat Lever
Fat Lever played 11 seasons in the NBA. He was a 2-time NBA All-Star and played the Point Guard position. He was a guard with defensive mindset. Lever was selected to the All-Defensive Second Team in 1988 during his stint with the Denver Nuggets.
Lever averaged 13.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He is the Nuggets' All-Time franchise leader in steals and was 2nd in career assists. He was one of the best guards in the NBA in those days when he was part of the Nuggets' roster.
He rebounded really well along with a lot of assists that he got due to his vision. He finished with 43 triple-doubles in the NBA. The Denver Nuggets retired his jersey No.12 in 2017.
#7 Larry Bird
A 3-time NBA champion, 2-time Finals MVP, 3-time MVP, 12-time All-Star, Larry Bird is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, spending his entire career with the Celtics.
He averaged 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. He was also a member of "The Dream Team" that won the gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics. He is part of the 50-40-90 club for the years 1987 and 1988.
He enjoyed the same success as the coach of Indiana Pacers after his retirement as a player. He won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 1998. He also won the NBA Executive of the year award in 2012.
As a player, he had 59 triple-doubles in the NBA and is #7 on the list of All-Time triple-double leaders.
#6 LeBron James
LeBron James is arguably the greatest all-around player of all time. He can pass, dribble, rebound, steal, block and pretty much do everything. A 4-time MVP, 3-time NBA champion and a 14-time All-Star, LeBron James' name on this list should not come as a surprise because of his extraordinary skills.
He is a 3-time All-Star Game MVP, 12-time All-NBA First Team, 5-time All-Defensive First Team. In his rookie season, he averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game and won the Rookie of the Year award. He also won the scoring champion award in 2008 when he averaged 30.0 points per game.
LeBron James has 73 triple-doubles in the NBA. He had 18 triple-doubles in the recently concluded 2017-18 season and was 2nd, only behind Thunder Guard, Russell Westbrook.
#5 Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is a 13-time All-Star who is the only player to ever score 100 points in an NBA game. Wilt was a 4-time regular season MVP. He won the Rookie of the year in 1960 and is one of the greatest centers of all time.
Standing at 7 feet 1 inch, he dominated the opposition, every time he touched a basketball. He was a 7-time scoring champion, 11-time rebounding champion and was also the assists leader in 1968. He also won the Finals MVP award in 1972.
Wilt has won two NBA championships. In his 14-year-long career, he has made it into the postseason 13 times, a stat that speaks for his dominance in those days. He averaged a double-double with 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in the NBA. His Jersey No. 13 has been retired by the Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Wilt had 78 triple-doubles in the NBA
#4 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is one of the most exciting players to watch, in the NBA. The energy with which he plays the game is unmatchable. He is the only player to average a triple-double over an entire season twice. He did it in consecutive years ( 2017,2018 ). He was awarded the MVP trophy in 2017 when he also won the scoring title.
A 7-time NBA All-Star, Westbrook is known as "Mr. Triple Double" for getting triple-doubles night after night. He holds the record for most number of triple-doubles in an NBA season with 42. He led the league in assists in the recently concluded 2017-18 NBA season.
He had the highest number of triple-doubles per season for four consecutive seasons ( 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).He is #4 on the list currently but will probably end as #2 or even #1 if he can keep the same pace going. He has 104 triple-doubles in the NBA.
#3 Jason Kidd
A point guard remembered fondly for his days with Dallas Mavericks with whom he has won an NBA championship, Jason Kidd's ability to pass and rebound meant he was a regular triple-double threat. Kidd was a 10-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA First Team, 4-time All-Defensive First Team, 5-time All-Defensive Second Team.
Kidd was also the Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995, he shared the award with Grant Hill of Detroit Pistons. Kidd led the league in assists for five seasons. He averaged 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game in the NBA.
Jason Kidd is second on the NBA all-time list in career assists and steals and ninth on the 3-point field goals made. He had 107 triple-doubles in the NBA. His jersey No.5 was retired by the Brooklyn Nets.
#2 Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is one of the greatest point guards of all time. A 5-time NBA champion, 3-time Finals MVP, 3-time MVP, Magic, with his scoring, passing and rebounding skills, made the Los Angeles Lakers one of the strongest teams in the history of NBA. He was selected in 1979 NBA draft by Lakers as the first overall pick.
Magic was the reason for the rise of NBA's popularity in the 80s. His passing skill was something every PG would love to emulate. He was one of the tallest NBA point guards. He led the league in assists four seasons.
Magic was also an excellent defender and led the league in steals twice. He had 138 triple-doubles in the NBA. His jersey No.32 was retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. He is currently serving as the president of Basketball operations of Los Angeles Lakers.
#1 Oscar Robertson
Oscar Robertson is best known for becoming the first player to ever average a triple-double over an entire season in the NBA, a feat he has achieved while playing for the Cincinnati Royals in 1962. A 12-time consecutive NBA All-Star, Oscar played point guard but had an excellent ability to assist and rebound as well.
In the 1963-64 season, he almost repeated his 1962 feat when he averaged 31.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 11.0 assists per game, falling short of averaging a triple-double by 0.1 rebounds.
Oscar led the league in assists for six seasons. He averaged 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game in the NBA. He won the NBA championship in his first year with Milwaukee Buck which happened to be his 11th season in the NBA. He averaged 19.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game that season.
Oscar Robertson is currently #1 on the list of all-time triple-double leaders and is way ahead of everyone else with 181 triple-doubles.