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On This Day (Dec. 22)
Notable events from NBA history that occurred on December 22.
Bill Russell’s Debut
On this day in 1956, Bill Russell made his NBA debut with the Boston Celtics. Russell scored six points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 95-93 win over the St. Louis Hawks. Russell’s debut was delayed by his commitment to the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, which competed in Melbourne in October and November.
Russell went on to average 14.7 PPG and 19.6 RPG that season, the latter figure the best in the NBA. However, he lost out in the Rookie of the Year Award balloting to teammate Tom Heinsohn (16.2 PPG and 9.8 RPG).
The Celtics would go on to win their first title in franchise history that season. Russell is still the only rookie to lead an NBA champion in rebounding. Russell made 12 Finals appearances in his 13-season career, winning a record 11 times.
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One Million Points
On this day in 1962, the NBA reached 1,000,000 total points scored in regular season games. There were three games played that day:
New York Knicks 120, Boston Celtics 106
Detroit Pistons 122, Chicago Zephyrs 110
San Francisco Warriors 123, Syracuse Nationals 118
It is not known which particular team or player scored the milestone field goal or free throw.
On this day in 2018, the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal scored 40 points, dished out 15 assists, and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 149-146 win over the Phoenix Suns. Beal is one of only seven players in NBA history to record at least 40 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds in a game, and he’s one of only three players to do so multiple times:
Oscar Robertson (4 times)
James Harden (3 times)
Bradley Beal (2 times)
Beal is one of three players in franchise history to record a 40-point triple-double — the others are Chris Webber and Russell Westbrook — and the only one to do so twice.
On this day in 1989, the Utah Jazz’s Karl Malone scored 52 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 114-110 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Malone made 22 of his 28 shots from the field (78.6%).
Malone is one of only four players in NBA history to record a 50-point, 15-rebound game while shooting at least 75% from the field, and he’s one of only two players to do so more than once:
Wilt Chamberlain (8 times)
Karl Malone (2 times)
Malone’s second such game occurred on Jan. 27, 1990, when he had 61 points and 18 rebounds with a field goal percentage of 80.8% in a 144-96 win over the Bucks.
On this day in 2013, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love tallied 45 points, 19 rebounds, and six assists in an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Love shot 15-23 from the field (65.2%) and 13-15 from the free throw line (86.7%).
Love became the first (and still only) player in franchise history to record at least 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists in a game.
Love averaged a career-high 26.1 PPG that season, leading the NBA with 65 double-doubles. He finished fourth in the league in total points (2,010) and third in total rebounds (963).
Wilt Being Wilt
On this day in 1963, the San Francisco Warriors’ Wilt Chamberlain compiled 40 points, 23 rebounds, and 12 assists in a 118-104 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Chamberlain made 18 of his 27 shots from the field (66.7%).
This was one of six career games in which Chamberlain recorded at least 40 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists, one more such game than all other players in NBA history combined (one each):