Within the next year, one of the most impressive records in sports history is likely to be broken. LeBron James needs just over 1,300 points to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA history by overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who set the mark in 1984 and finished his career with 38,387 points in total.
Moments like these are growing more and more rare, as some of the most hallowed records in sports history have been all but set in stone for decades. As America’s major sports leagues have grown and evolved, some of the most impressive achievements may never be equaled again.
To determine the longest standing unbreakable sports records, 24/7 Tempo reviewed NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL data from the Sports Reference family of sites. These single game, single season, and career records are set so far beyond the next closest competitor, they are unlikely to ever be broken.
Many of the records on this list are likely to stand the test of time because of changes in the game. MLB pitchers throw far fewer games in a typical season now than in the early days of the sport, so it seems unlikely any player will ever get close to the all-time record of 511 wins.
Other records featured may never be broken simply because the greatness of the record holder may never be matched. It is difficult to imagine that there would ever be another hockey player with the playmaking prowess of “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, or a basketball player as dominant as “The Big Dipper,” Wilt Chamberlain. Even the greatest contemporary players are a long way off from the records they established. These are the 40 most successful athletes of the 21st century.
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