Records are meant to be broken. But sometimes, a record just can’t be broken.
Every year we see records broken across the sports world. From LeBron James’ pursuit of the NBA all-time scoring crown to Alexander Ovechkin’s quest to reach Wayne Gretzky’s goal total, the unfathomable is starting to become a reality.
That brings us to the question: What sports records are unreachable? What numbers are just too outrageous to ever be reached?
Here are the most unbreakable records in every major sport, organized by sport:
NBA: Celtics’ eight straight championships
There are plenty of directions to look in the NBA, but the Boston Celtics’ eight straight titles from 1959 to 1966 is the most unbreakable.
Looking back at these squads, there was minimal roster turnover from year to year. It was the same players leading the charge each season: Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn and Sam Jones, among others. Red Auerbach was steering the ship, and they didn’t lose until he finally stepped down.
In today’s NBA, this feat is nearly impossible. Free agency, trades and league expansion have hindered dynasties from forming. No team has won three straight titles since the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2002 – and no other team in league history has won four or more straight besides these Celtics.
NFL: Bears’ six ties in a season
Ties are one of the most frustrating things in the NFL.
One team that was all too familiar with even-scored endings was the 1932 Chicago Bears, who finished their season at 7-1-6. Ralph Jones’ squad began the season with three straight scoreless ties before rallying to win the NFL Championship over the Portsmouth Spartans (who later became the Detroit Lions). There were no overtime rules at this time, so an even score after four quarters meant an automatic tie.
MLB: Cy Young’s 749 career complete games
There’s a good reason that the annual award for best pitcher is named after Cy Young.
The former Boston, Cleveland and St. Louis pitcher, who played from 1890 to 1911, amassed 749 career complete games in his 815 starts. That’s right – Young pitched the full nine innings in 91.9% of his starts for 22 seasons.
In today’s MLB, players are held on strict pitch counts to stay fresh throughout the season and their career. Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is the active complete game leader with … 28. Pud Galvin, who played exclusively in the 19th century, is second all-time with 646. It’s safe to say this record will never be touched.
NHL: Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 career points
The Great One has no competition in this category – and he likely never will.
Gretzky finished his 20-year career with 2,857 points, averaging 142.85 points per season. Connor McDavid led the NHL with 123 points in 2022-23. Gretzky led the league in points 11 times and had 90 points or more 18 times in 20 years.
Jaromír Jágr is second with 1,921 career points – nearly 1,000 behind Gretzky. Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin lead active players, but both stars could double their career point totals and still have fewer than Gretzky.
College basketball: UConn women’s 111-game win streak
Geno Auriemma has built an untouchable women’s basketball empire in Storrs, Conn.
The Huskies have won 11 national championships since Auriemma took over as head coach in 1985. But the most impressive record that UConn holds is its 111-game win streak, which lasted from 2014 to 2017 with help from stars Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck. The streak is a Division I basketball record, including men’s and women’s teams.
The longest win streak in Division I basketball entering the 2022-23 season belongs to Kansas’ men’s team. That streak is 11 … so they’re only 100 games away from UConn. On the women’s side, South Carolina has won six straight after its run to the title in 2022.
Golf: Tiger Woods' 683 weeks at World No.1
Tiger Woods is still pursuing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships, but his record number of weeks at World No. 1 will never be touched.
Woods held the top spot in the world rankings for a stunning 683 weeks, including 281 consecutive weeks from 2005 to 2010. He had another streak of 264 consecutive weeks from 1999 to 2004 after first reaching No. 1 in 1997.
Behind Woods on the list is Greg Norman, who was No. 1 for 331 weeks in his career. Among active players, 33-year-old Rory McIlroy – the current No. 1 – is sitting at 107 weeks as of October 2022.
Tennis: Rafael Nadal’s 14 French Open titles (and counting)
When Rafael Nadal steps on the clay at Roland-Garros, he becomes unstoppable.
Rafa won his first Coupe des Mousquetaires in 2005, which began a run of 14 titles in 18 years. He won his 14th championship in 2022 at the age of 36. Nadal is also the all-time leader in Grand Slam singles titles with 22, but that record is still within reach for Novak Djokovic.
Looking exclusively at the French Open, Nadal’s record won’t be touched. Max Decugis is second with eight titles, but they all came from 1903 to 1914. Djokovic has two French Open titles, while no other active player has more than one.
NASCAR: Richard Petty’s 27 wins in a season
The King dominated NASCAR in the 1960s and 1970s, but his best season came in 1967.
Petty won a record 27 races that season in 48 starts while clinching his second of seven championships.
NASCAR’s modern era began in 1972, when the schedule was cut to around 30 races per season. The record for wins in a season since 1972 is 13 (Petty in 1975 and Jeff Gordon in 1998). Since 2001, there have been 36 races each year and no driver has won more than 10 races. So, it’s safe to say we won’t ever see a driver win 27 of 36 races in a season.