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The Most Unassailable Records in Sports

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The Most Unassailable Records in Sports

Most sports records are within a shooter’s chance of being broken. Reaching accolades like Tom Brady’s seven Super Bowl rings isn’t out of the question for Patrick Mahomes. Some accomplishments stand taller than that, though. It’s impossible to fathom them being taken down. These types of records are usually glossed over by fans and media. With nobody within shouting distance, they’re forgotten sometimes. 

Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player ever. The three biggest hockey stats to keep track of are goals, assists, and points. Every goal and assist is worth one point. The most mind-boggling stat in sports belongs to him. Gretzky has more assists than any other player has points. He recorded 1,963 assists during his legendary career. That record likely won’t come crashing down at any point in time. 

Another record that’s likely safe for a long time is Cy Young’s 749 complete games. There is so much care put into pitchers and their arms. Managers are told to avoid making pitchers throw longer than they need to. The average pitcher starts 35 games per season. To break Cy Young’s record of 749 complete games while averaging 35 starts per year, a pitcher would have to only throw complete games for 21 and a half seasons. That won’t happen in baseball as long as doctors are on staff. For more sports content, test your football knowledge with this quiz. 

To compile this list of unassailable records in sports, 24/7 Tempo consulted sports-related sources. These include ESPN, CBSSports, and Fox Sports. 

Wayne Gretzky’s 1,963 assists

2020 NHL All-Star Skills
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Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player to play the sport.

Most sports have at least two players who spark conversation for the greatest of all time. That’s not the case in hockey. Wayne Gretzky is clearly the greatest individual player the sport has ever seen. As of 2024, he’s the leader in goals and assists. While Alexander Ovechkin is chasing down Gretzky’s goal record, Gretzky’s assist record won’t be going anywhere in the future. Throughout his career, Gretzky tallied 1,963 assists. Ron Francis is in second place with 1,249. That’s more than 700 behind The Great One.

The hockey season is filled with 82 games. If a player were to get one assist per game in the regular season, it would take them just under 24 seasons to tie Gretzky’s record. While scoring has gone up in the NHL over the years, there likely won’t be a player who will consistently get an assist per game for 24 seasons. What’s even crazier to consider is Gretzky has more assists than any other player in NHL history has points. 

Jerry Rice’s 22,895 receiving yards

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Jerry Rice played most of his legendary career with the San Francisco 49ers.

Football is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. Players put their bodies on the line week in and week out for the enjoyment of fans around the world. There’s no denying Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver to put on pads. The bulk of his career was spent with the San Francisco 49ers. He was part of three Super Bowl winning teams. He also won MVP of Super Bowl XXIII.

Rice proved his worth with how many receiving yards he had during his legendary career. He amassed 22,895 yards, which is a record that likely won’t fall. What’s even more amazing is he did so with fewer games. As of 2024, there are 17 games per season. If a player were to average 100 yard per game during the season, they’d finish with 1,700 on the year. They’d need to duplicate these stats for 13 and a half years to pass Rice on this list. With how short NFL careers are, this likely won’t happen.

Boston Celtics eight straight titles

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons
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DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 22: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics looks to drive around Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on March 22, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics won multiple championships during the 1960s and as recently as 2024. 

Every team comes into the season with the hopes of winning the championship in their respective sport. At the end of the year, only one team has the honor of hoisting the trophy. While there were fewer teams in the 1960s, the Boston Celtics won the NBA title eight straight years. Some folks attempt to discredit this accomplishment by talking about the level of competition the Celtics faced. They had Bill Russell who was the best player in the league. 

The team dominated nearly everyone that got in their way during the historic run. NBA fans have long complained about there not being enough parody in the sport. The new collective bargaining agreements make it nearly impossible for one team to dominate for long stretches of time. Even if a team were to do so, they’d need to win a title in eight straight seasons. That likely won’t ever happen again in the NBA. 

UConn Huskies women’s basketball 111 straight wins

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Geno Auriemma is the coach who’s led the UConn Huskies women’s team.

One of the most recent records on this list was the domination of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the Huskies were the pinnacle of the sport. Between 2014 and 2017, the team didn’t lose a single game. That included the conference and NCAA tournaments they played in. The Huskies helped elevate women’s basketball to new heights with their domination. 

It’s going to be challenging for teams to not lose for nearly three straight years. The most likely team to accomplish this in women’s basketball in 2024 is the South Carolina Gamecocks. They’re dominating opponents night in and night out. However, there are countless exciting programs throughout women’s basketball. The odds of showing up every night isn’t likely in any sport. 

Cy Young’s 749 complete games

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Cy Young dominated the mound as a pitcher.

Baseball players from the early 1900s didn’t have the same types of medical staffs teams do in 2024. That means players played through various injuries and didn’t hold back. Cy Young is considered the greatest pitcher in history. In fact, the Cy Young Award is given out every year to the best pitcher in both the American League and National League. Young has countless amazing stats and records. His most impressive is his 749 complete games. 

Pitchers in 2024 are told to not throw too much. They want to keep their arms in tact for the duration of the season. Most pitchers throw around 100 pitches before being yanked out of the game. The average pitcher starts around 35 games per season in the modern MLB. If someone wanted to catch Young’s complete game total, each start of theirs would have to result in a complete game for 21 and a half seasons. The odds of that happening are as close to zero as possible.

Wilt Chamberlain’s 50.4 ppg in one season

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Few basketball players statistically compete with Wilt Chamberlain.

Basketball players attempt to score as many points as possible in the games they play. Most players don’t hoist up shots whenever they get the ball, though. Looking back at it, that’s what it feels like Wilt Chamberlain did during his career. Granted, those shots typically went in. During the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain took his talents to a new height. He dominated like no player ever has before in their career. 

Chamberlain averaged over 50 points per game for every game that year. Even in 2024 when scoring has gone up, players are applauded when they score 50 points once. There’s little to no chance a player would average 50 points per game in 2024. Players are taught to be unselfish and only shoot when they have an open look. There’s also more load management than ever before in 2024. Players aren’t playing as many minutes as they once did. 

Michael Phelps’ 23 Olympic gold medals

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The greatest swimmer in history is unquestionably Michael Phelps.

The Olympics are one of the few times the entire world tunes into one spectacle. There are dozens of various events within the Olympics where fans watch to see what countries and people come out on top. One of the most popular events to watch during the Olympics is swimming. Fans love watching races that are short. There’s been no better swimmer in history than America’s own Michael Phelps. 

Throughout his career, Phelps won an astonishing 23 gold medals. His most impressive performance came in 2008 when he won eight gold medals. The amount of work and care Phelps put into his body while training is second to none. It’s challenging to prepare for an event that only happens one every four years. The most likely way someone would pass Phelps’ medal record is by participating in either gymnastics or swimming. 

Ricky Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases

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Ricky Henderson (left) stole more bases than anyone in baseball history.

Part of what makes baseball fun to watch is when players steal a base. Fans’ hearts race seeing if they’ll beat the throw from the catcher. Nobody in baseball history stole bases better than Ricky Henderson. He played with tons of teams during his legendary career. Along with stealing bases, Henderson won two World Series titles. If a player wants to pass Henderson in the record books, they’ll have to steal 1,406 bases. 

To put that into perspective, MLB seasons are 162 games per year. Even if a player were to steal one base per game, they’d have to do that consistently for more than eight and a half seasons in a row. Most players who are fast lose their speed once they hit 31. Henderson’s record is under-appreciated by baseball fans, given how remarkable it is. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 26 straight losses

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold the NFL record for 26 straight losses.

The NFL is an ultra-competitive league. Players show up once per week and lay it all on the line. They come back to the locker room bruised up. However, they’re always ready for more. It’s easy to constantly wake up when you’re succeeding as a player. However, when you’re part of a losing team, waking up is challenging. Few teams have ever gone one whole season without winning a game. Imagine going a season and a half as a loser. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did this between 1976 and 1977. What’s even worse is these were the first two seasons of the franchise. They started off on the wrong foot and have struggled to maintain consistency as a good team ever since. They lost 26 consecutive games and showed no signs of hope until the end of the 1977 year. They beat the New Orleans Saints by a score of 33 to 14. Some teams try to tank in the NFL, but few would allow themselves to lose 26 times in a row. 

Emmitt Smith’s 18,355 rushing yards

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Emmitt Smith was part of the Cowboys dynasty in the 1990s.

The running back position has become one of the most undervalued in recent memory. Teams are of the opinion they can replace running backs in the draft to avoid paying them high contracts. However, during the 1990s, running backs were the golden child of football. Players like Emmitt Smith were integral to their teams’ success. No other running back has done it like Smith during their career. 

When it was all said and done, Smith finished with 18,355 rushing yards. Given how quickly running backs are out of the NFL, that record will stand for a long time. If a running back were to average 100 yards per game in a 17-game season, they’d have to maintain that pace for nearly 11 straight years before matching Smith. These days, most running backs don’t even last five years in professional football. 

Bill Russell’s 11 championships

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No player in NBA history has won more titles than Bill Russell.

There isn’t a better example of a winner in a team sport than Bill Russell. He won at nearly every level he played at. His biggest successes came at the NBA level. Russell was drafted by the Boston Celtics and turned the team into one of the cornerstones in the NBA. Throughout his career, Russell was a key part of the Boston Celtics winning championships year after year. When he hung it up, Russell had taken home 11 titles as a player. 

The next closest player to Russell who didn’t play for the Celtics is Robert Horry. During his career, Horry won seven titles with the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs. Given how much the NBA is pushing parody, a star-player likely won’t be the one to break Russell’s record. It would be a key role player who finds himself on winning teams. There might be a player who gets close in the future, but the odds of passing Russell are slim to none. 

Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 straight games played

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Cal Ripken Jr. is celebrated for his consecutive games streak.

Professional athletes are asked to perform on a daily basis for fans. There are sometimes they get injured or need a day of rest to get their bodies right. Cal Ripken Jr. didn’t believe in taking days off. He broke what was once thought to be an unbreakable record. For 2,632 straight games, Ripken showed up to the ball park and put on a show for fans. Given how big load management has come in professional sports, it’s unlikely fans will ever see this record shatter. 

There are 162 games in a regular season for professional baseball. If someone were to break Ripken’s record, they’d have to play in every game for 16 straight seasons. Few baseball players make it through 16 seasons even with getting days off. They’d have to ensure they don’t get hit by a ball and break a bone. Ripken Jr. can rest easy knowing his record likely won’t fall. 

Nolan Ryan’s seven no-hitters

Detroit Tigers v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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Nolan Ryan was feared by hitters when they stepped into the box.

Pitchers don’t want to let allow any hits when they step on the mound. However, most allow at least one hit during their starts. On the off chance a pitcher doesn’t allow a hit, they’re heavily celebrated. There are around three or four no-hitters per season in the MLB. Few pitchers have done it multiple times. Nolan Ryan accomplished the feat seven different times during his legendary career. 

There’s a certain amount of luck involved with throwing a no-hitter. The other team has to be off their game. Your pitches have to be perfect. The fielding around you must be tip top. That’s why so few pitchers accomplish the nearly impossible task. There’s a chance fans see more no-hitters in the future with launch angle becoming a huge talking point. The odds of one player throwing seven are slim to none. 

UCLA Bruins’ mens basketball seven titles in a row

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John Wooden was the mastermind behind the UCLA basketball dynasty.

Few basketball teams have dominated at the college level like the UCLA Bruins during the 1960s and 1970s. It was easy for coach John Wooden to recruit players to Los Angeles. The campus of UCLA is one of the most amazing in the United States. He also showed he was a quality coach worth playing for. From 1967 to 1973, no NCAA Tournament was won by any other team than the UCLA Bruins. 

College basketball likely won’t see domination like that for a long time. With NIL and players transferring all the time, programs are constantly working to build. Currently, the UConn Huskies mens team has won two straight titles in dominating fashion. They’re less than a third of the way to UCLA’s record. 

Isner vs Mahut’s 11 hour match at Wimbledon

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John Isner won the longest tennis match in history.

Tennis is one of the most physically demanding sports. There are few breaks and you’re constantly on your feet. Most matches last between two and three hours. Some last longer, but none have come close to what John Isner and Nicolas Mahut went through at Wimbledon. 

The two men faced off in the 2010 tournament in a match that’s become legendary among tennis fans. The fifth set lasted for hours because neither man could get an edge over the other. Isner finally won 11 hours after the match started. Unsurprisingly, Isner fell in his next match. Tennis changed the rules of the tiebreak because of the match between the two men. For more sports content, click here to read about the top division one football player from every state. 

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