25. NBA: Career Assists (John Stockton, 15,806)
Those tight shorts while playing for the Utah Jazz did not keep Stockton from dishing out the most assists in the history of the NBA. It took Stockton 19 seasons to set this mark while collecting 10.5 dimes per night. Stockton’s final NBA season came in 2002-03, so this record appears to be his for even longer. Chris Paul (9,653) and LeBron James (9,346) are the closest active players to Stockton’s mark, but they’re not that close.
Image Source: Getty Images
24. NBA: Career Rebounds (Wilt Chamberlain, 23,924)
Sticking with the NBA. Chamberlain holds a host of records and this is one that continues to stand the test of time. He last played in 1973, so it’s pretty impressive considering the likes of fellow greats Bill Russell and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar. Dwight Howard is the closest active player to Wilt’s record with 13,691 boards, but we don’t know how many more years he has left in the league.
Image Source: Dick Raphael/Getty Images
23. NHL: Single-Season Goals (Wayne Gretzky, 92)
Like Wilt Chamberlain, “The Great One” owns many NHL records that are expected to stay intact. This is one that has been standing since the 1981-82 season. Interestingly enough, Gretzky owns the No. 2 spot with 87 goals two seasons later. The closest active players to challenge this mark was Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (2007-08), who is getting up in age, and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos (2011-12) with 82 apiece. Perhaps somebody like Edmonton teammates Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl will make history.
Image Source: B Bennett/Getty Images
22. Olympics: Most Career Gold Medals (Michael Phelps, 23)
This one is not even close. And, we’re not sure when, or if, somebody will catch the legendary swimmer. Perhaps most impressive about Phelps’ record is that he has 28 Olympic medals overall. It’s actually hard to pinpoint who might come close to even challenging Phelps’ record at the moment, thus making the record seriously unattainable.
Image Source: Getty Images
21. NHL: Single-Season Points (Wayne Gretzky, 215)
Back to “The Great One.” Not only does Gretzky hold the NHL record for most points in a season (set in 1985-86), but he claims the top-four spots all-time. In fact, he has nine of the top 11 spots on said list, with Mario Lemieux owning the other two. Gretzky is also the only player in NHL history to post at least 200 points in a season.
Image Source: Donald Merille/Getty Images
20. NFL: Consecutive 1,000-yard Rushing Seasons (Emmitt Smith, 11)
This mark feels particularly safe considering the shelf life of an NFL running back is not as lengthy as years past. Smith accomplished the feat from 1991-2001. However, in this current age where the pass game is more prominent, backs are used more as pass catchers and teams are using backfield by committees, Smith’s record seems like yeoman effort. Sleep easy Emmitt, you’re good.
Image Source: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
19. MLB: Single-Season Stolen Bases (Hugh Nicol, 138)
Pretty amazing that Hugh Nicol of the Cincinnati Red Stockings still holds this record from 1887. The great Rickey Henderson came close with 130 in 1982. However, in today’s game, the stolen base is pretty much a lost art thanks to teams’ reliance on power. Since 1990, the highest single-season stolen base total was 78 (in 1992 and 2007). Meanwhile, one has to go back to 1987 for the last time a player recorded at least 100 steals (Vince Coleman, 109).
Image Source: Jeff Carlick/Getty Images
18. MLB: Single-Season Home Runs (Barry Bonds, 73)
If there’s one record on this list that might have a good chance of being broke over the next decade, this might be it. That said, it would be a pretty big feat. Only two people have recorded 70 or more homers in a season (Mark McGwire is the other in 1998). Bonds’ 2001 effort is one of the most memorable moments in MLB history, but there is plenty of power in today’s game to challenge, perhaps. The New York Mets’ Pete Alonso hit 53 homers in 2019 and Giancarlo Stanton clubbed 59 in 2017.
Image Source: Kirby Lee/Getty Images
17. Soccer: Most Goals in a Calendar Year (Lionel Messi, 91)
Still one of the great individual performances in any sport. Playing for Barcelona and Argentina’s national team, Messi nearly reached the century mark for goals in 2012. He broke the record set by Germany and Bayern Munich star Gerd Muller (85 in 1972). Messi recorded nearly 90 goals for the famed club, and plenty came in amazing fashion that still turn heads today.
Image Source: Alex Capparos/Getty Images
16. NFL: Consecutive 100-yard Rushing Games (Barry Sanders, 14)
The Detroit Lions’ great did this during the 1997 season. And, it looks like Sanders will hold on to the mark even longer. While it’s not uncommon for an NFL back to put together a 100-yard performance occasionally, the outings feel fewer and further between. Plus it seems like an accomplishment if a featured back makes it a full season without getting hurt. That’s why Sanders’ mark is still quite impressive.
Image Source: /Getty Images
15. NFL: Consecutive Games Started (Brett Favre, 297)
In fairness to veteran Philip Rivers – he’s got a chance if he can play into his 40s – still, it seems like a tall order. Favre’s reputation has taken a hit over the years, but his ironman status in terms of taking the field might be the most noteworthy part of his legacy. Which is saying a lot. Even more impressive is the fact that he played a position that takes a significant beating. Favre never thought about backing down.
Image Source: Wally McNamee/GETTY Images
14. MLB: Career Stolen Bases (Rickey Henderson, 1,406)
We already touched on the single-season steals record, but Rickey’s career mark is hardly in danger. He’s the only player on baseball history to record at least 1,000 steals. There’s also no active player close to this mark, and we won’t hold our breath until someone comes close. Baseball has evolved to feature to the home run and manufacturing runs on the base paths isn’t as appealing.
Image Source: Jeff Carlick/Getty Images
13. MLB: Career Home Runs (Barry Bonds, 762)
This is one of the most revered records in all of sports. Bonds, who also holds the single-season home run record as mentioned, might not be a favorite of baseball fans, but this mark should still be respected. Albert Pujols is the closest active player to Bonds, 100 homers behind. However, Pujols is now in his 40s and no longer a consistent home run threat.
Image Source: John G. Mabanglo/Stringer/GETTY Images
12. NFL: Career Receiving Yards (Jerry Rice, 22,895)
While Larry Fitzgerald could very well break Rice’s career receptions record, the yards mark seems good to stand for a while. Rice, who stopped playing 2004, hasn’t seen this mark challenged. Though Fitzgerald currently sits second on the list the longtime Cardinal is nowhere close to 20,000 yards. Perhaps most impressive about Rice’s career is that it lasted 20 seasons – another accomplishment Fitzgerald is chasing.
Image Source: George Gojkovich/Getty Images
11. MLB: Career Hits (Pete Rose, 4,256)
Much like Barry Bonds’ career home run record, this is another that still resonates in the major league community. Love or hate Rose, he was a phenomenal hitter. To the point where he made it look easy. Rose and Ty Cobb are the only players to reach 4,000 hits. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Albert Pujols is the closest active player to Rose, but still more than 1,000 hits away.
Image Source: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images
10. NFL: Career Rushing Yards (Emmitt Smith, 18,355)
This is the granddaddy of them all in terms of NFL records. Walter Payton held it for years, then Smith broke it and has held it after 15 stellar seasons in the NFL. Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson have moved into Smith’s neighborhood, but that this is one mark that is going to be tough to break in the near future. As mentioned before, current NFL running backs aren’t used the same way they were 20-30 years ago. Thus, breaking these kinds of records remains difficult.
Image Source: Larry French/Getty Images
9. NBA: Most Points in a Game (Wilt Chamberlain, 100)
Perhaps the most unforgettable record in sports history. Chamberlain’s memorable performance came while a member of the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. The late Kobe Bryant scored 81 in 2006, but it still seems like a tall order for someone to catch Wilt. James Harden, perhaps? He would have to take 100 shot attempts to do it, however.
Image Source: Bettmann/Getty Images
8. NHL: Career Points (Wayne Gretzky, 2,857)
We sound like a broken record. Then again, when it comes to NHL records, Gretzky is the king. This one is rather significant. “The Great One” did it over 20 seasons and is the only player in league history to record 2,000 or more points. When we think dominance in any sport, Gretzky needs to be at the top list. Above Jordan or Ruth. It’s really no contest.
Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
7. Women’s College Basketball: Consecutive Games Won (Connecticut, 111)
Unlike the men’s college game where star players don’t hang around long, the women are more committed to the team game. So, it’s possible at some point we will see this streak broken. Of course, that’s still a Herculean task. The 111 straight victories of unprecedented dominance spanned from 2014 to 2017 and included two national championships. Perhaps most remarkably, in those 111 victories, 108 of of them were won by double digits. While the streak came to an end on March 31, 2017 at the hands of a buzzer-beating Final Four defeat to Mississippi State, it’s hard to envision this record ever being topped.
Image Source: Mike Carlson/Getty Images
6. NBA: Consecutive NBA Titles (Boston Celtics, Eight)
Another hoops record that will not be broken any time soon. The Celtics’ dominant run spanned 1959-’66. It’s also the longest championship winning streak in United States’ professional sports history. While those Chicago Bulls’ teams of the 1990s were quite impressive with six titles over an eight-season stretch, it still does not compare to what Boston was able to pull off.
Image Source: Bettmann/Getty Images
5. PGA Tour: Consecutive Victories (Byron Nelson, 11)
The legendary Nelson went on this amazing run during the 1945 season. That stretch also included one major victory, at the PGA Championship. Interestingly, Nelson reportedly earned $30,250 in winning those 11 straight matches. Tiger Woods won seven in a row spanning 2006 and 2007, and there was talk he would challenge Nelson’s run. Now, we don’t know who will.
Image Source: Fox Photos/Getty Images
4. Men’s College Basketball: Consecutive Games Won (UCLA, 88)
Now, one would think that a dominant program on today’s scene would top UCLA’s massive run of success of a three-season stretch. However, in these current times when one-and-done stars are a regular occurrence in the college game, that no longer seems possible. These Bruins had the right recipe. Star players, an unselfish system and the greatest coach in the history of the game. That’s a combination we might not see again.
Image Source: Bettmann/GETTY Images
3. MLB: Pitching Wins (Cy Young, 511)
To be honest, in today’s game the value of pitching wins has diminished. That said, Young’s record is pretty daunting. Of course, he essentially did everything on the field during his playing days. In today’s game, starting pitchers don’t go nearly as deep into contests as they once did and “openers,” spot-starters and bullpen games have become the rage. This record is going nowhere fast.
Image Source: Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images
2. MLB: Pitching Losses (Cy Young, 316)
As was the case with pitching wins, this record should last for many, many more decades. Young and Pud Galvin, from the late 1800s, are the only pitchers to lose at least 300 games. In today’s game, a starting pitcher that struggles won’t last long. Either he’s relegated to bullpen, dropped down to work on things in the minors or sacked from the game itself. Therefore, Young’s legacy has nothing to worry about.
Image Source: The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images
1. MLB: Consecutive Games Played (Cal Ripken, 2,632)
Ripken’s vaunted record streak spanned from May 30, 1982 to Sept. 19, 1998. It truly is remarkable to think about Ripken’s streak when looking at the state of the game now. It’s unfair to say current major leaguers are lazy, but perhaps the desire to avoid injury, rest the body and make money is more important than the love of the game. Of course, there have not been many players since Ripken to play the game as consistently well as he did. And may not be more to come.
Image Source: Ted Mathias/Getty Images