There's a veritable host of awards, trophies, accolades and other hardware NBA players can acquire over their careers if they push themselves to achieve such honors. There is one very exclusive, incredibly challenging achievement that has no trophy or ceremonies, and that few players ever accomplish.
The 50-40-90 club. What is that, you ask? 50% shooting from the field, 40% shooting from 3-point land, and 90% free throw percentage. It is the offensive player's holy grail. In order to qualify, you have to maintain stats at or above 50% 40% 90% over an entire season-- and you have to have a minimum of 300 field goals, 55 3-point field goals, and 125 free throws.
Only six players in NBA history have achieved this. Two of them have done it in multiple seasons. Want to know who they are? well, you'll have to read on. For perspective, two of the most recognized players in NBA history have never done it: Michael Jordan never had such a season, with a career .497% from the field, .327% from 3, and .835% free throws. LeBron James also has never accomplished this in a season, though you know he dearly wants it. His career numbers are .497% from the field (freaky, it's the same as Jordan), .341% from 3, and .747% free throws.
The bottom line is, the few players who've made this list are nothing short of offensive basketball miracles. It's hard to make this list even just shooting around in a gym over any reasonable sample size. Without further ado, hereafter is the indisputable list of those who have made the 50-40-90.
7 Honorable Mention: Jose Calderon
6 Mark Price -- 1988-89 Cleveland Cavaliers
With the first pick of the second round in the 1986 draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected a point guard out of Georgia Tech by the name of Mark Price. In a draft-day trade, they would give him to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a future draft pick. With that pick, Dallas drafted a player named Jeff Hodge who would go on to never play in the NBA. This transaction is often regarded as one of the worst draft day trades in NBA history. Mark Price would go on to become the face of the Cavaliers franchise, a four-time All-Star over the 9 years he played for them.
Before the existence of LeBron James, Mark Price was the Cleveland Cavaliers' golden child. His number 25 has been retired by the team. Over the course of his stay at Cleveland, Price managed to solidify his place as a true NBA star in the 1988 season, where he averaged 53% shooting over 1,006 field goal attempts, 44% shooting from 3 over 211 attempts, and shot 90% on the button from the free throw line over 292 attempts.
5 Reggie Miller -- 1993-94 Indiana Pacers
The third esteemed inductee of this list historically, Miller reached the 50-40-90 echelon in the 1993 season with 50% field goals over 1,042 attempts, 42% 3-point shooting over 292 attempts, and 91% free throw shooting over 444 free throws. Miller is a bit more of a household name than his closest predecessor, Price, and had the rarefied air of spending his entire career with the Pacers.
Like Price, he also never was able to bring home a championship, showing just how stratified the NBA is in championship quality teams. Not particularly shocking when you know he played his entire career in Indiana, he is their all-time leading scorer, and his jersey number 31 was retired by both the Pacers and his Alma Mater, UCLA.
4 Kevin Durant -- 2012-2013 Oklahoma City Thunder
That's right, you may not have heard about it, but last year's MVP runner-up placed himself in a category with some all-time greats. The youngest and most recent player to reach 50-40-90 status, last year Kevin Durant shot 51% from the field over 1,433 attempts, made 42% of his 334 3-pointers, and shot 91% of his 750 free throws. I'll say that again. 750 free throws. The next closest player in this club has about 200 less free throw attempts. Just, wow.
It would appear the slim reaper entered this club with two lit m-80s in his hands. He also tops the entire list with 2,280 points that season. For perspective, #6 on our list Mark Price is 6th out of 10 50-40-90 seasons with 1,414 points. With his 3 point shooting accuracy steadily increasing, and his field goal and free throw shooting hovering just below 50% and 90% respectively, he's also a strong candidate to repeat entrance into the club, being only 7 years into his career.
3 Dirk Nowitzki -- 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks
There are few players in the association respected more than Dirk Nowitzki. It's well known how much Nowitzki struggled when he first started in the NBA at the age of 20. He had played professionally in Germany, but the game was wildly different in the NBA. Playing as a power forward, Dirk struggled defensively and felt undersized compared to many stronger power forwards: "I was so frustrated I even contemplated going back to Germany. . . [going to the NBA from German leagues] was like jumping out of an airplane hoping the parachute would somehow open."
With patience and a strong work ethic he learned to focus on his strengths: his height, and his incredibly fluid jump shot. His second year in the league he came into his own, finishing runner-up for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award. Six years later, during the 2006-07 season, Dirk entered the club: Shooting 50% of 1,341 field goals, 42% of 173 threes, and 90% of an incredible 551 free throws.
2 Larry Bird -- 1986-87 and 1987-88 Boston Celtics
One of only two players to ever repeat this crazy feat, Larry Bird was also the gent to kick off the party. He was the first person ever to achieve a 50-40-90. The three point shot was only introduced in the NBA in 1979, so it was only six or seven years into its existence before Bird started the club, so to speak.
There was a staggering consistency to his back to back 50-40-90 accomplishments (and a staggering consistency to his game in general). Bird went 53% of 1,497 shots, 40% of 225 threes, and 91% of 455 free throws in the 1986 season, then followed it up in the 1987 season going 53% of 1,672 shots, 41% of 237 threes, and 92% of 453 free throws. He scored over 2,000 points in each season (2,076 and 2,275), the only person on this list to do so other than Durant.
1 Steve Nash -- 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Phoenix Suns
Kaboom. The timeless point guard Steve Nash reigns atop the 50-40-90 club (and probably will for a long time) with four seasons of superb offensive prowess. The cherry on top of it all is the fact that he did it while averaging 10.58 assists a game during that span (leading the league in assists and free throw percentage twice of those four seasons). He was only a few free throws away from accomplishing it five times; He had all of the qualifications in 2006 but shot .899 from the charity stripe. As for the four seasons he qualified, his numbers were as follows: 51-44-92% in 2005, 50-47-91% in 2007, 50-44-93% in 2008 and 51-43-94% in 2009. Whew. That is consistency in excellence right there ladies and gents.
Unfortunately for Steve, despite his great accomplishments he has yet to win an NBA title, and with a debilitating lower back injury, the future looks grim for the 40-year-old basketball legend. Aside from his incredible career, Nash is also well known for his charitable nature. He was even honored for his widespread philanthropy by Time magazine, as he was placed as one of their top 100 most influential people in the world. Well, he might not win a championship, but he's kicked ass on the court and he's kicked ass at life. Basketball will miss you when you're gone, Steve.
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