In basketball, a steal occurs when a defensive player legally causes a turnover by his positive, aggressive action(s).This can be done by deflecting and controlling, or by catching the opponent's pass or dribble of an offensive player. The defender must not touch the offensive player's hands or otherwise a foul is called.
Steals are credited to the defensive player who first causes the turnover, even if he does not end up with possession of the live ball. To earn a steal, the defensive player must be the initiator of the action causing the turnover, not just the benefactor.Whenever a steal is recorded by a defensive player, an offensive player must be credited as committing a turnover.
Stealing the ball requires good anticipation, speed and fast reflexes, all common traits of good defenders. However, like blocked shots, steals are not always a perfect gauge of a player's defensive abilities. An unsuccessful steal can result in the defender being out of position and unable to recover in time, allowing the offense to score. Therefore, attempting to steal is a gamble. Steals, though risky, can pay off greatly, because they often trigger a fastbreak for the defensive team.
There is no prototypical position from which a player may get many steals. While smaller, quicker guards tend to accumulate the most steals, there are many exceptions. For example, forward Rick Barry led the NBA in steals in 1974–75, and for many years center Hakeem Olajuwon led his team in the category, consistently ranking among the league's leaders, and is the only center ranked in the top 10 all-time in steals. Karl Malone, a power forward, is currently number eleven.
Steals were first recorded in the NBA in the 1973–74 season, while the rival ABA league first recorded steals during the same season.
Kendall Gill and Larry Kenon are tied for most steals in a regular season NBA game with eleven. Kenon's was recorded on December 26, 1976while Gill recorded his on April 3, 1999.
The most steals by a player in an NBA season is 301 by Alvin Robertson in 1985–86.
The NBA's all-time leader for steals is John Stockton with 3,265 in his career.
The NBA leader in steals per game (SPG) is Robertson with an average of 2.71 (career, 1250 steals minimum)and 3.67 (season, 125 minimum).
Baron Davis is the all-time playoff leader in steals per game for a career with 2.28 SPG.
Maurice Cheeks in the 1979 Playoffs averaged a playoff record 4.11 SPG.
Some of the greatest defensive specialists in the steals category in the NBA include:
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. He was nicknamed "the Dream" during his basketball career after he dunked so effortlessly that his college coach said it "looked like a dream." From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
Richard Francis Dennis Barry III is an American retired professional basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA). Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in history by the NBA in 1996, Barry ranks among the most prolific scorers and all-around players in basketball history and is the only one to lead the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), ABA, and NBA in points per game in a season. He ranks as the all-time ABA scoring leader in regular-season and postseason (33.5) play, while his 36.3 points per game are the most in the NBA Finals history. Barry also is the only player to reach the 50-point mark in a Game 7 of the playoffs in either league. He is one of only four players to be a part of a championship team in both leagues.
Clyde Austin Drexler is an American former professional basketball player who is the commissioner of the Big3 3-on-3 basketball league. Nicknamed "Clyde the Glide", he played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), spending a majority of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers before finishing with the Houston Rockets. He was a ten-time NBA All-Star and named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Drexler won an NBA championship with Houston in 1995, and earned a gold medal on the 1992 United States Olympic team known as "The Dream Team". He was inducted twice into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in 2004 for his individual career and in 2010 as a member of the "Dream Team". He currently serves as a color commentator for Houston Rockets home games.
Andrei Gennadyevich Kirilenko is a Russian basketball executive and retired professional basketball player, currently the commissioner of the Russian Basketball Federation.
Ben Cameron Wallace is an American former professional basketball player who is a minority owner and president of basketball operations of the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA G League. Playing most of his career in the National Basketball Association, he is regarded by many to be the greatest undrafted player in NBA history. A native of Alabama, Wallace attended Cuyahoga Community College and Virginia Union University. In his NBA career, Wallace played with the Washington Bullets/Wizards, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The center (C), also known as the five, or the big man, is one of the five positions in a basketball game. The center is normally the tallest player on the team, and often has a great deal of strength and body mass as well. In the NBA, the center is usually 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) or taller. They traditionally have played close to the basket in the low post.
Phi Slama Jama was a name given to the men's college basketball teams of the Houston Cougars from 1982 to 1984. Coined by former Houston Post sportswriter Thomas Bonk, the nickname was quickly adopted by the players and even appeared on team warmup suits by the middle of the 1982–83 season. The teams were coached by Guy V. Lewis and featured future Hall of Fame and NBA Top 50 players Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. "Texas' Tallest Fraternity" was especially known for its slam dunking and explosive, fast-breaking style of play.
Mark E. Eaton is an American former professional basketball player who spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA), with one NBA All-Star selection in 1989, and two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in 1985 and 1989. Though limited offensively, Eaton's 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) height helped him become one of the best defensive centers in NBA history. Eaton holds the NBA record for most blocks in a season (456) and career average blocked shots per game (3.50).
Larry Joe Kenon is an American former professional basketball player.
The Jazz–Rockets rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets. The rivalry began in the 1990s when the Rockets, led by dominant center Hakeem Olajuwon and college teammate Clyde Drexler, and the Jazz, led by the pick-and-roll duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton, were playoff powers in the Midwest Division. The teams faced each other four times in the NBA playoffs during the decade. In all four instances, the winner was the eventual Western Conference champion and played in the NBA Finals. In 2007, the rivalry was restored as the two teams met again in the playoffs and a showdown of two of the best 1–2 combos of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming of the Rockets and Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer of the Jazz. In 2018, the rivalry was once again restored as the two teams met in the Western Conference Semifinals, where the Rockets won the series 4–1. In 2019, the two teams met once again in the playoffs, but in the First Round, with the Rockets once again winning the series 4–1.
The 1994–95 NBA season was the Rockets' 28th season in the National Basketball Association, and 24th season in Houston. After winning their first championship, the Rockets went on to win their first nine games of the season. However, with increased competition in the West, management felt a change was needed to win another title. On February 14, the Rockets traded Otis Thorpe to the Portland Trail Blazers for All-Star guard Clyde Drexler, a former teammate of Hakeem Olajuwon at the University of Houston, and Tracy Murray. The team also signed free agent Chucky Brown midway through the season. However, after the trade, the Rockets struggled in the second half of the season posting a record of 17–18 on their way to finishing third in the Midwest Division with a 47–35 record. Olajuwon averaged 27.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.4 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team, and selected for the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Drexler was also named to the All-NBA Third Team.
The 1995–96 NBA season was the Rockets' 29th season in the National Basketball Association, and 25th season in Houston. In the offseason, the Rockets signed free agents Mark Bryant and Eldridge Recasner. After two straight NBA championships, the team got new colors, new uniforms, and a new logo which was actually unveiled aboard the Space Shuttle. The Rockets got off to a fast start winning ten of their first eleven games. However, injuries would be an issue all year as Clyde Drexler, Sam Cassell and Mario Elie were all out for long stretches. Midway through the season, the team signed free agent Sam Mack, who previously played in the Continental Basketball Association. Despite the injuries and a 7-game losing streak in March, the Rockets finished third in the Midwest Division with a 48–34 record, with Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon both being selected for the 1996 NBA All-Star Game. Olajuwon averaged 26.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game as he was named to the All-NBA Second Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Rockets' 30th season in the National Basketball Association, and 26th season in Houston. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired All-Star forward Charles Barkley from the Phoenix Suns, and signed free agents Kevin Willis, Brent Price and undrafted rookie Matt Maloney. The Rockets blasted off to a 21–2 start, but later on struggled posting a six-game losing streak between January and February. Barkley averaged 19.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, but appeared in just 53 games due to ankle and hip injuries. At midseason, the Rockets signed free agents Eddie Johnson and Sedale Threatt as they won 14 of their final 17 games, finishing second in the Midwest Division with a 57–25 record. Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and head coach Rudy Tomjanovich all represented the Western Conference during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. However, Barkley and Drexler did not play due to injuries. Olajuwon was named to the All-NBA First Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team, while Maloney was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The 1998–99 NBA season was the Rockets' 32nd season in the National Basketball Association, and 28th season in Houston. To replace the retiring Clyde Drexler, the Rockets acquired All-Star forward, and six-time champion Scottie Pippen from the Chicago Bulls, and signed free agent Antoine Carr, who appeared in two NBA Finals appearances with the Utah Jazz. Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley had previously played together on the U.S. Men's basketball team in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
In professional basketball, the most commonly used statistical benchmark for comparing the overall value of players is called efficiency. It is a composite basketball statistic that is derived from basic individual statistics: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers and shot attempts. The efficiency stat, in theory, accounts for both a player's offensive contributions and their defensive contributions, but it is generally thought that efficiency ratings favor offense-oriented players over those who specialize in defense, as defense is difficult to quantify with currently tabulated statistics.
This article lists all-time records achieved in the NBA post-season in major categories recognized by the league, including those set by teams and individuals in single games, series, and careers. The NBA also recognizes records from its original incarnation, the Basketball Association of America.