21 Basketball Facts to Slam Dunk Your Sports Knowledge

Whether you play basketball or just love watching the sport, it's fun to learn interesting facts about the game. Enhance your knowledge and prepare to wow your friends and family by learning a variety of basketball facts. Everyone will want you to join their trivia teams!

basketball player doing slam dunk on court basketball player doing slam dunk on court
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Facts About NBA Players

Just making it to the roster of a National Basketball Association (NBA) team is an amazing feat. Those who lead the league with impressive records are superstars and legends in the sport.

Longest NBA Career

Basketball star Vince Carter officially retired from the sport after the 2020 season, following 22 years playing in the NBA. No other player has played in the NBA for this many years. Throughout his extensive professional career, he played in 1,541 games.

Most Games Played

Robert Parish of Boston Celtics 1988

Basketball legend Robert Parish holds the record for playing in more NBA games than any other player. He played in 1,611 games throughout his 21-year career, which included winning championships with the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. He is 50 games ahead of the player with the second-most games (Kareem Abdul-Jabaar).

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Most Points Scored

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar holds the all-time NBA record for most points scored. He scored 38,387 points throughout his legendary 20-year NBA career.

Most Rebounds

Wilt Chamberlain holds the NBA all-time record for the most rebounds. He achieved 23,924 rebounds during his 14-year playing career.

Single-Game Scoring Record

Wilt Chamberlain also holds the single-game scoring record. He scored 100 points on March 2, 1962, while playing for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks. His playing actually led to the league changing some rules, which may partially be why no one has been able to match his single-game achievement.

Single-Game Scoring Runner Up

Kobe Bryant of Los Angeles Lakers

In 2006, Kobe Bryant came closer to Chamberlain's single-game scoring record than anyone else. He scored 81 points for the Los Angeles Lakers in a 2006 game against the Toronto Raptors.

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Facts About NBA Games

Individual player statistics are impressive, but don't forget that basketball is a team sport. Discover some interesting facts about historic games.

Longest NBA Game Ever

The longest NBA game in history took place on January 6, 1951. The game, which is listed in Guinness World Records, lasted 78 minutes. It took place in Rochester, New York between the Rochester Royals and the Indianapolis Indians.

Most NBA Overtimes

Only one NBA game has reached six overtimes. Not surprisingly, this occurred with the 1951 game between the Rochester Royals and the Indianapolis Indians that was also the longest-lasting game in NBA history.

Second Most Overtimes in an NBA Game

Only two NBA games have had five overtimes. On November 9, 1989, the Milwaukee Bucs and the Seattle SuperSonics played a five-overtime game. The other five-overtime game took place 40 years earlier, on November 24, 1949. That game took place between the Syracuse Nationals and the Anderson Packers.

Facts About NBA Coaches

Of course, games don't just happen by accident. Coaches play a major role in the NBA.

First Black NBA Head Coach

In 1966, Bill Russell became the first Black head coach in the NBA. Russell joined the Boston Celtics as a player in 1956 and remained with the team through 1969. He continued playing after being elevated to head coach, so he served as a player-coach the last three years he was with the team. In his 13 years with the Celtics, the team won 11 NBA championships. Russell played in all of them and coached two of them. He has more NBA championships than any other player.

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Coached the Most NBA Championship Teams

Phil Jackson has coached more NBA championship-winning teams than any other coach. He has coached 11 teams to NBA championship victories, six times with the Chicago Bulls and five times with the Los Angeles Lakers. He served as a head coach for 20 years.

Longest Coaching Tenure With the Same Team

Greg Popovitch holds the record for the longest head coaching career with the same NBA team. He started coaching the San Antonio Spurs in 1996 and is still with the team as of the 2020/2021 season, which marks his 25th anniversary as the team's head coach. He holds the single-team tenure record across multiple major league sports beyond the NBA, including the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

First Woman to Coach an NBA Game

Becky Hammond coaching San Antonio Spurs

While there has not yet been a woman hired to serve as head coach of an NBA team, on December 30, 2020, Becky Hammon became the first woman to fill the role of head coach in a regular-season NBA game. Hammon, an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, stepped in to fill the role of the head coach after head coach Greg Popovitch, was ejected.

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WNBA Facts

Professional basketball isn't just for men. The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) is among the most successful professional sports leagues in the world.

WNBA Beginnings

In 1996, the NBA's Board of Governors voted to approve the formation of the WNBA. The league played its first season in 1997.

Number of WNBA Teams

When the WNBA began playing in 1997, there were just eight teams. The league has expanded; there are now 12 WNBA teams.

WNBA Single Game Scoring Record

On July 17, 2018, Lisa Cambage of the Dallas Wings broke the WNBA's previous single-game scoring record. The Australian point guard scored a total of 53 points in a game against the New York Liberty.

WNBA Head Coaches by Gender

As of 2021, only a third of the WNBA teams have female head coaches. Four teams (Atlanta Dream, Indiana Fever, Minnesota Lynx, and Phoneix Mercury) are headed up by female coaches. The remaining eight teams have a man in the head coaching role.

Olympic Basketball Facts

Basketball is popular in many countries around the world. There are professional leagues in many countries throughout the world and many nations send teams to the Olympics.

Basketball Added to the Olympics

wheelchair basketball 2016 paralympic games

Basketball has not always been an Olympic sport. Men's basketball became part of the Summer Olympics lineup in 1936. It was added to the Paralympic Games in 1960. Women's basketball became part of the Paralympics in 1968. Later, in 1976, women's basketball was added to the Summer Olympics lineup.

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Professional Players Allowed to Compete

In 1992, the rules for Olympic basketball teams were relaxed to allow professional basketball players to compete. Since then, many professional basketball players have competed on their home country teams. The 1992 United States (U.S.) men's national team was dubbed "the dream team," as the roster was made up almost entirely of NBA all-stars, MVPs and champions.

U.S. Men Dominate Olympic Basketball

Out of the 19 Summer Olympics held from 1936-2016, the U.S. national basketball team won the gold medal in all but four. The U.S. did not compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, so they won gold for all but three of the times they participated. Argentina won gold in 2004; the Soviet Union won gold in 1988 and 1972. The U.S. won silver two of the three times they did not win gold, and bronze the other time.

(Note: The Summer Olympics did not take place in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic).

U.S. Women Dominate Olympic Basketball

While women's basketball has not been in the Olympics as long as men's, the women's team is just as dominant. As of 2016, women's basketball has been included in the Olympics a total of 11 times. The U.S. women's national team took gold eight of the ten times they participated. In 1992, The Unified Team (made up of former Soviet Republics) won gold; Team USA won bronze. The Soviet Union won gold in 1976; the U.S. won silver. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 games.

Expand Your Basketball Vocabulary

These are just a few of the many interesting facts about the sport of basketball. Now that you have insight into some of the most interesting and impressive basketball facts, learn some basketball slang so you can discuss the sport like a pro. Prepare to wow everyone with your knowledge of sports trivia.