About The Big O
The Art of Basketball
The Big O Autobiography
The Oscar Robertson Rule
Oscar Robertson Trophy
The Big O In the News

About The Big O

The Big O's Triple-Double Records Stood for 55 Years

In the 1961-62 NBA season, only his second as a pro, 23-year-old Cincinnati Royals guard Oscar Robertson set two records that rank as one of the greatest individual achievements in basketball or any other sport.

At a time when there was no 3-point shot, The Big O became the first player ever to average a triple-double for an entire season: 30.8 points per game, 11.4 assists per game and 12.5 rebounds per game.

Of his 79 games, 41 were triple-doubles, the single-season record for 55 years. He scored 40 or more points four times and topped 15 assists and 15 rebounds in seven games. (For his 61-62 game by game stats, click here. For media coverage, click here.)

Now, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook has surpassed The Big O's single-season record for triple-double games with his 42nd of the 2016-17 season on April 9 at Denver, the Thunder's 80th game of the season. That brought his total to 79 for his career, moving him into the 4th spot ahead of Wilt Chamberlain on the career list.

On April 7th, Westbrook had clinched a triple-double average for the entire season to tie The Big O's achievement in that category. As of April 9, Westbrook's averages were 31.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists. He also leads the NBA in scoring by a comfortable margin.

Other players with prolific triple-double numbers are Houston's James Harden (21) and Cleveland's LeBron James (13), and the NBA itself has already set a single-season record for triple-double games (114), not counting any games remaining through April 12.

Robertson is the NBA's all-time career leader in triple-doubles, 181 to Magic Johnson's 138. They along with Jason Kidd (107) are the only players to top 100. Then come Westbrook (79), Chamberlain (78), Larry Bird (59), LeBron James (55), Fat Lever (43), Bob Cousy (33) and John Havlicek (31). The numbers for Westbrook and James are as of April 9.

In single-season triple-double games, Westbrook now leads with 42, followed by Robertson (41), Chamberlain (31), Robertson (26) twice, Robertson (22), Chamberlain (22), Harden (21), Robertson (20), and Magic Johnson (18).

Over his first six years, the 6-5, 210-pound Robertson cumulatively averaged a triple-double: 30.4 points per game, 10.7 assists per game and 10 rebounds per game. In each of his first five seasons, he had more triple-double games than the rest of the NBA combined. For seven years, his cumulative averages were 30.4 ppg, 10.7 apg and 9.4 rpg. For those seven years cumulatively, he also had more triple-double games than the rest of the NBA combined.

In 1961-62, the NBA had only nine teams. The following will give you an idea of the Hall of Fame level of competition against which Robertson and his teammates (Jack Twyman, Wayne Embry, Bob Boozer, Adrian Smith, Arlen Bockhorn) played night after night as he compiled his records:

  • Boston Celtics - Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, Tom Sanders, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Bob Cousy, Frank Ramsey
  • Chicago Packers - Walt Bellamy
  • Detroit Pistons - Bailey Howell, Gene Shue, Don Ohl, Ray Scott
  • Los Angeles Lakers - Elgin Baylor, Jerry West
  • New York Knicks - Richie Guerin, Willie Naulls, Johnny Green
  • Philadelphia Warriors - Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Arizin, Guy Rodgers
  • St. Louis Hawks - Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, Clyde Lovellette, Lenny Wilkens
  • Syracuse Nationals - Dolph Schayes, Hal Greer, Johnny Kerr, Larry Costello

In the process of averaging a triple-double, The Big O also became the only guard in NBA history ever to lead his team in rebounding — another record now tied by Westbrook this season — and the only player ever to total 900 assists and 900 rebounds in the same season.

To have a shot at a triple-double, you need to spend a lot of time on the floor -- and, along with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain from that era, The Big O was an iron man in terms of minutes played. With the Royals, he averaged 43.9 minutes per game, and for his 14-year career, 42.1 minutes per game. In nine of those seasons, he played over 3000 minutes.

Another measure of The Big O's impact was his teams' winning percentage. In his triple-double

Oscar Robertson is guarded by the Boston Celtics' John Havlicek, who presently ranks 10th on the career triple-double list with 31.

Sacramento Kings present annual
Oscar Robertson Triple-Double Award

Since 2003, the Sacramento Kings have presented an annual Oscar Robertson Triple-Double Award for community service. The Big O has personally presented the award to Chris Webber (2003), Isaiah Thomas (2012) and Rudy Gay (2014). More...

Articles about The Big O
and the triple-double

The Big O welcomes Russell Westbrook to the triple-double club

Welcome to the triple-double era

Robertson calls Westbrook "the triple-double king"

Oscar Robertson's legacy much greater than triple-doubles

Westbrook's pursuit of triple-double history not lost on Robertson, West

Oscar Robertson was so much more than the guy who averaged a triple-double

Le Bron James: There's nobody quite like Oscar Robertson

Triple-double kings Robertson and Kidd cared about winning, not stats

The Big O highlight videos

The Big O on Russell Westbrook

Oscar Robertson on turning 75 and triple-doubles

The Big O: An all-around talent like the league has never seen

Unnoticed then, Oscar's triple-double unparalleled

LeBron James was once considered the best bet to average a triple-double

Triple-double talk: The Big O on the Kidd

Oscar defined the triple-double

The Art of the Triple-Double

season, he also led the Royals to their first playoff appearance in four years and their first winning season (43-37) in six years, a 221% turnaround from 19 wins in each of the two seasons prior to Robertson's arrival.

In his 41 triple-double games, the Royals won 29 for a .707 percentage. Of his 181 career triple-double games, his teams won 131 for a .724 winning percentage. In his first seven years, the Royals won .545 of their games and .522 over his ten years. In his four years at Milwaukee, the Bucks won 248 of 328 games for a .756 percentage, averaging 62 wins per season. In 1970-71, their NBA championship season, the Bucks were 66-16 in the regular season and 12-2 in the playoffs.

Last updated: 04/10/2017.

Our thanks to Neil Munro, Matthew Shuh, Tim Frank, Tim Kuck and Elias Sports Bureau for helping us to compile the statistics cited on this page.

Biography - Quick Facts - Business & Philanthropy - Honors & Awards - Triple Double Facts
Career Statistics - XNBA China Tour - National Kidney Foundation - Questions for The Big O - Affiliated Companies

Contact UsPersonal AppearancesMedia Inquiries
© 2017 Oscar Robertson Media Ventures
Site Design & Content: Michael O'Daniel