Iron Men of 2014

Adding content to the bottomless pit of the web seems like a fruitless effort sometimes, but with some creativity and insight you can provide information previously not available. For example, every so often the media will discuss players with long consecutive strings of games played, but no one provides a comprehensive list of the current ironmen.

Thus, as I did last year, I compiled a list of the active ironmen with and without the playoffs for players with a minimum of two seasons without a missed game. There some were exceptions, however. Unlike the NBA’s “official” records for consecutive games, I don’t exclude a player who missed one game if it’s not caused by an injury. For example, Klay Thompson missed a game this season to attend a funeral. In the spirit of what ironman implies, that a player is indestructible and unnaturally healthy, I do not dock him for missing a game. A missed game because of a coach’s decision is a tricky issue because it’s easier to be healthier when you rarely play, but I’ll typically note an instance where a player has played every game except for an isolated incident of a coach’s decision (more on this later with a certain other player.) Lastly, be careful with how you search for consecutive games because odd issues crop up like a Boston-Indiana game canceled last season or a player who’s traded and plays every available game but falls short of 82.

Without further ado, I have a table below of the active leaders. There appears to be a lack of a pattern in these players, even when adding in the ironmen last season. There are active big men, energy guys, shooters, slashers, and spot-up specialists. There are some surprising names too like Monta Ellis and Jeff Green, who thankfully recovered after a scary heart issue. The Blazers have turned over a new leaf too, as they’re now arguably the healthiest team in the league have two ironmen of their own. Wesley Matthews, by the way, only has one season with a missed game; it was 2013.

PlayerRS gamesRS+playoffsLast season of missed game
DeAndre Jordan2402702011
Luis Scola (1)2302482011
Klay Thompson (2)229248Never
Brandon Bass1972232012
Robin Lopez2112222012
Tristan Thompson2062062012
Jason Thompson1811812012
Damian Lillard164175Never
Monta Ellis1641752012
Jeff Green1631692012
Kyle Singler1641642012

(1) Scola missed a game in the playoffs due to a coaching decision.
(2) Klay Thompson missed a game in the regular season to attend a funeral.

If anyone asks, DeAndre Jordan is the reigning iron man of the NBA, as improbable as it seems from his much appreciated vertical game. He leads in both regular season and regular season with playoff consecutive games with Klay Thompson and Scola close behind, if you accept the exceptions I set for them. Otherwise it’s fellow big men Bass and Robin Lopez who are next in line.

Unfortunately, the active crop is destroyed each season; it would have been larger. Russell Westbrook famously hadn’t missed a game in years and suffered through multiple operations. Tyler Hansbrough had an ankle injury after 200 plus games without missing one. OJ Mayo had a funeral to attend and then a strange flu that knocked him out a few games. Asik had a knee injury and recovered slowly while being frustrated with his reduced role on the team. Kemba Walker had an ankle sprain. And Andre Miller missed a long string of games while feuding with his coach.

Miller, however, has a claim to the throne. He didn’t miss games due to an injury but a coaching decision, as Brian Shaw benched him one game while the team was struggling, likely to try something different, and Miller publicly objected. Andre, for context, separated his shoulder mid-season once and didn’t miss a single game. The streak meant something to him. That likely led to his outburst, and it cost him more games before he was shipped to Washington where he didn’t miss another game. Before the DNP-CD’s, his last missed game was in the 2011 season when he was suspended for bulldozing Blake Griffin on this play. Before that, you have to go back over a decade to 2003. Not counting the suspension and the DNP-CD’s with the playoffs included, it’s an astonishing 964 consecutive games. For comparison, AC Green’s with the playoffs is 1336, and that was assumed to be unbreakable. Miller’s streak in between the suspension and the coaching feud was still longer than Jordan’s, and the streak before the suspension was 600 plus.

It’s also unclear who Jordan is taking the crown from. In a confusing set of circumstances HBO could adapt for a hit series, Tyler Hansbrough had the official title of consecutive games including playoffs and regular season last season, but Westbrook’s was longer if you only count the regular season. Then there’s Andre Miller, who, when you ignore the aforementioned suspension, had an 800 plus streak.

Nevertheless, there were still 29 players without a missed game in 2014, which is fairly typical. Ramon Sessions had the 40th season with over 82 games*, although he still “missed” a game due to ineligibility from being traded (I elected to ignore that, as it was out of his control and had nothing to do with health.) For completeness, I’ve listed the players below, and they were verified including playoff games.

Players with no missed games in 2014
Ramon Sessions (1)
DeAndre Jordan
Damian Lillard
Robin Lopez
Wesley Matthews
Nicolas Batum
John Wall
Mike Dunleavy
Gerald Green
Greg Monroe
Ricky Rubio
Taj Gibson
Tristan Thompson
Channing Frye
Brandon Bass
Monta Ellis
Draymond Green
Timofey Mozgov
Kyle Singler
Marcus Morris
Mike Miller
Jeff Green
Richard Jefferson
Khris Middleton
Jason Thompson
Cody Zeller
Luis Scola (2)
Norris Cole
Ben McLemore

(1) 83 games total
(2) Missed one playoff game

Two rookies, meanwhile, did not miss any games: Cody Zeller and Ben McLemore. They join the Russell Westbrook memorial of players who have never missed an NBA game along with incumbents Klay Thompson (excluding the funeral), Kyle Singler, and Damian Lillard.

DeAndre Jordan has the claim now, although Andre Miller has a solid argument based on the spirit of the distinction, but it’s a leaderboard that changes every year. Injuries are destructive and seemingly random at times. The nature of injuries is akin to an act of God, the fate beyond our control, in determining who lands on someone’s foot or breaks a bone after a nasty fall. Savor the ironman crown, because after a breath of an instant, you may never touch it again.

*Walt Bellamy owns the record for most games played with an incredible 88 game total in 1969. Due to better travel schedules, this appears to be unbreakable. He’s probably also the best player of the 40 players, as they’re mainly role players. And no one has ever had two seasons with over 82 games. There’s still time, Ramon Sessions. There’s still time.