The 4 NBA players who have achieved a quadruple-double
Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been some dazzling individual achievements by the greatest basketball players of all time. With thousands of games per season, opportunity abounds every night for the elites of the sport to have those rare and fleeting moments of athletic unconsciousness, during which everything seems to slow down and life on the court appears easier than it should.
Many of these moments are remembered when high point totals are achieved like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, or when excellence arrives at just the right moment in time (we're looking at you, Michael Jordan). But what deserves equal, if not more, recognition in the annals of NBA history, are those games when a player achieved the near impossible: a quadruple-double.
A quadruple-double is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult statistical accomplishments in a basketball game. There are a number of statistics being tracked throughout the course of a single game, and with the evolution of analytics and advanced metrics, more are added seemingly every year. But at its core, points are still the determinant of wins and losses on the scoreboard, and therefore all items related to achieving more points for your team while limiting points for the other will be standard-bearers of statistical achievement and record keeping.
To achieve a quadruple-double, a player must get double-digit totals in at least four major statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and/or blocks. Points are the easiest "double" to achieve, followed by rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. There have only been 160 games in NBA history in which a player recorded at least 10 blocks, and only 24 games in NBA history in which a player has achieved 10 steals. To parlay those rarely occurring defensive achievements with a multi-dimensional offensive impact is tremendously impressive.
The elusive quadruple-double has occurred just five times in the entire history of the league, and by only four players total. There have been many instances in which players have been close, and some of today’s modern, high-usage players like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Nikola Jokic, and Draymond Green have certainly been on the verge many times. And yet, actually getting over the hump to secure that final assist, get the final block, or rather shockingly in Green’s case in a February 2017 game against the Memphis Grizzlies, get enough points, has proven too much to overcome.
While today’s elite players drift in and out of traditional positional roles and thus seem more likely to have multiple ways in which they impact the game, no player has achieved a quadruple-double since 1994 when David Robinson did so for the San Antonio Spurs. The closest consistent threat to break that long time drought has been Westbrook when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as he recorded a remarkable 119 triple-doubles during a four-year stretch from 2015-19.
Let’s take a look at the esteemed players that have crossed the threshold and will be forever ingrained in NBA history for their feats.
1. Nate Thurmond
Stats: 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, 12 blocks
Date: Oct. 18, 1974
Opponent: Atlanta Hawks
Thurmond will forever be the first man to achieve a quadruple-double, doing so on the very first game of the 1974 season as his Chicago Bulls faced the Atlanta Hawks. Thurmond recorded 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 blocks.
The 14 rebounds actually comes in lower than his career average, as he retired with a 15.0 points per game and 15.0 rebounds per game average over a Hall of Fame career that included seven All-Star appearances and later, a spot in the NBA’s Top 50 players of all time list. "Nate the Great" was a trailblazer without ever playing for the team from Portland.
2. Alvin Robertson
Stats: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals
Date: Feb. 18, 1986
Opponent: Phoenix Suns
Not until 12 years after Thurmond first set the standard did we see another quadruple-double, when Alvin Robertson notched 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 steals.
Robertson led the NBA in steals three different times in his career, and is the only player in history to have achieved a quadruple-double with his defensive double coming from steals rather than blocks. The longtime San Antonio Spurs guard defeated the Phoenix Suns that night thanks to his all-around contributions.
3. Hakeem Olajuwon
Stats: 29 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks
Date: March 3, 1990
Opponent: Golden State Warriors
Stats: 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks
Date: March 29, 1990
Opponent: Milwaukee Bucks
One could easily argue that Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon had the greatest single month of any player in NBA history in March 1990. First on March 3 against the Golden State Warriors and a second time on March 29 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Olajuwon put himself in the record books with a quadruple-double. In his first, Olajuwon had 29 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists, and 11 blocks. In his second, just a few short weeks later, he did it with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, and 11 blocks.
Olajuwon is the only player to win an MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP in the same season, doing so in 1990, and to this day still leads the league in blocked shots. Olajuwon is on a very short list of the greatest centers of all time, and has a good chance at being the only player to ever achieve multiple quadruple doubles in a career.
4. David Robinson
Stats: 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 blocks
Date: Feb. 17, 1994
Opponent: Detroit Pistons
It almost seems hard to believe it’s been over a quarter-century now since we last saw a quadruple-double, but the numbers don’t lie. The last to do it was David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs in a blowout victory over the Detroit Pistons. Robinson just barely snuck over the line, racking up 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 blocks.
To his credit, Robinson is the only player on this list to surpass 30 points in doing so. Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson.