Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Daniel. Daniel Wonders, “What is a triple double?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Daniel!

Russell Westbrook. Magic Johnson. Chelsea Gray. Courtney Vandersloot. Do you recognize these names? If so, you may know they’re part of a special club. Yes, they’re all talented basketball players. But all four have also accomplished a major athletic feat—the triple double!

What is a triple double? It’s a term used in basketball statistics. These are used to measure a player’s performance in each game. The main five categories measured are points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. When a player reaches double digits in three of these categories, it’s called a triple double.

Have you ever played basketball? Are you a spectator of the sport? If so, you might already understand what each of these statistics measure. Points are, of course, a measure of the number of goals made by a player. Most shots in basketball are worth two points, but players can also make three-point shots and one-point free throws.

Rebounds are when a basketball player retrieves the basketball after a missed shot. Assists are when they make a pass that leads to a basket. How about steals? That’s when one player takes the ball away from another. Finally, blocks are when one person blocks another’s shot with their hand.

As you can see, these statistics are a good way to tell how well a player is doing. That’s why they’re very important to coaches, team owners, and fans alike. When a player achieves a triple double, it’s a pretty good sign that their practice is paying off. 

In the National Basketball Association (NBA), Oscar Robertson holds the career record for triple doubles. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Cincinnati Royals. Robertson is also known as “Mr. Triple Double” for his 181 triple doubles. He retired in 1974.

Triple doubles are less common in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). This may be at least in part due to the WNBA’s games and seasons being shorter. However, the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings became the first person in basketball’s recorded history to achieve a quintuple double. That means she reached double digits in all five categories. She played for the Indiana Fever from 2002 until 2016.

Of course, a quintuple double or triple double is quite the feat. However, a double double also calls for a celebration. This is when a player reaches double digits in two of the major statistics.

Have you ever finished a game of basketball with a triple double? If that’s your goal, keep practicing! You may just find yourself among the greatest athletes of all time one day.

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

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