Love's Double Double Streak is Impressive but the NBA's Orwellian Memory Hole is DisturbingIn George Orwell's brilliant dystopian novel 1984, a totalitarian regime controls the future by rewriting the past, sending unfavorable historical facts down the "memory hole." Kevin Love's active points/rebounds double-double streak--which currently stands at 52 games--is most impressive, surpassing a 51 game streak that three-time NBA MVP Moses Malone compiled in 1978-79; any time a player does something that had not been done for over 30 years--particularly when the last player to do it was a Hall of Famer--he should receive much praise and I disagree with anyone who tries to diminish Love's feat by pointing to his team's lousy record; that criticism makes about as much sense as knocking Kobe Bryant's 81 point game because it came against the Toronto Raptors: if it were easy to score 81 points then someone else would have done it--Michael Jordan certainly would have hit that mark if he could have--and if it were easy to put up consecutive double-doubles for more than half of a season then many players would have done it in the past three decades.
However, contrary to the NBA's Orwellian hype machine, Love's accomplishment is not an NBA record--and it is disingenuous to speak of "modern" NBA records, as if everything that happened prior to the 1976-77 ABA-NBA merger took place in the Dark Ages before statistics could be tracked. It has been confirmed by the Associated Press and other sources that Wilt Chamberlain had a double-double streak of at least 220 games during his career; keep in mind that Chamberlain averaged 30.1 ppg and 22.9 rpg during his career--including a mindboggling 1962 season in which he averaged 50.4 ppg and 25.7 rpg and six other seasons in which he averaged at least 33.5 ppg and at least 22.9 rpg--so two words best describe a game in which Chamberlain merely managed a double-double: "off night." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Elvin Hayes, Jerry Lucas and Bill Russell each had at least one streak of at least 50 games with a double-double.
It is senseless and disrespectful for the NBA to in any way diminish the accomplishments of the legends who built the game. Commissioner David Stern has repeatedly said that the Legends Brunch is his favorite event of All-Star Weekend; I would be more impressed if instead of talking a good game about the Legends Brunch he would act forcefully to make sure that the official record book--and the information that is fed to the NBA's media partners--completely and accurately reflects the true history of the sport. Commissioner Stern rightly takes swift action when coaches, players or other league employees act or talk in ways that place the league in an unfavorable light, so he should act equally forcefully to make sure that the history of the game is preserved and celebrated.
It must be added that this history simply has to include the ABA, just like NFL history includes the records and stories of the AFL. One of my earliest pro basketball articles dealt with the pro basketball subject that I feel most passionately about: ABA Numbers Should Also Count (and even though I disagreed with some of Brett Ballantini's subsequent editorial decisions at Basketball Digest, I have to give him credit for providing me the platform to state my case on this very important issue, an issue that Ballantini also feels very strongly about). I don't have complete game log data for the ABA but that information is probably available if one would track down all of the various ABA team media guides. Consider what we do know about two ABA legends who should have been inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame a long time ago:
1) Artis Gilmore, the 1972 ABA regular season MVP and 1975 ABA Playoff MVP, averaged at least 18.7 ppg and at least 15.3 rpg in each of his five ABA campaigns; he played all 84 games in each of those years, in four of those five seasons he averaged at least 20.8 ppg and in three of those five seasons he averaged at least 17.6 rpg. Gilmore almost certainly had a double-double streak of at least 50 games and he probably had some impressive 20-20 streaks as well.
2) Two-time ABA regular season MVP Mel Daniels--whose Hall of Fame worthiness has been praised by the great Julius Erving--averaged at least 18.5 ppg/15.4 rpg in each of his first six professional seasons and in three of those seasons he averaged at least 21 ppg and at least 15.6 rpg. Daniels probably had at least one double-double streak of 50 or more games.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:43 PM