Wilt Chamberlain was a very large man amongst boys, with numbers like 50 ppg and 27 rpg it’s easy to give him the GOAT title. With 7 seasons putting up 33+ pts/game, and 10 seasons averaging 20ppg and 20rpg he was more of a mythical figure than an actual reality.
But as crazy as it is – he was real.7-1 and 280lbs of reality.
We hear of all the players that quickly get mentioned, Magic, Larry, Jordan and LeBron all get tossed with ease into the discussions of the greatest of all time. But where is Wilt Chamberlain in the conversation? How about as far as big men go? Shaq, Olajuwon, and Kareem all get nods and heavy consideration before Chamberlain?
I don’t understand it.
He utterly dominated the game.
Dominated an era.
Those guys were all dominant and great players – but why does “Wilt the Stilt” get less respect than them?
It’s easy to think there was much less competition back then and very few teams. It’s easy to put in the big fish in a little pond analogy, but Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were not considered little fish, right? But to condemn a player and their legacy simply based on their competition in that specific era is weak. Nobody chooses when they are born to play in a set era, so to me, that just doesn’t hold up. All players, regardless whether it is the 1960’s, 70’s or current – are all victims of their eras.
There was simply nobody who could stop him, or even contain him, quite frankly, after 13 seasons he was still grabbing 19 boards /game at 36 years old. Wilt was a freak physically in all aspects, he had height, at 7-1, monstrous strength and incredible agility. Anyone that would imply by today’s standards Chamberlain’s numbers wouldn’t transition, because of 3 second rules, etc – keep in mind, that by today’s game, bigs with his height don’t have his athleticism. He wouldn’t likely be a rangy player and probably would have a limited scoring game, not extending out much past 3-6′ – but I certainly think he would more than hold his own, and push around the guys down low, without much of a problem.
Wilt had 3 guys on him most of the game, and he still did what he wanted on the court, offensively and defensively.
Chamberlain was a monster, with a 40″ vertical at his size is ridiculous. He had scoring ability, excellent vision, and passing ability, could jump like a swingman, his vertical was insane, which is why he was able to defend the way he did. He was a giant amongst men in terms of his basketball ability. As far as passing ability, we are talking about a score first center, who put up 4.4 apg in his career, including 2 seasons of 7+ assists /game. That’s ridiculous. Wilt was not only huge, but he was a track and field star in high school, as good as these guys are – he would wreck today’s players like Embiid and Jokic down low. Wilt would’ve likely been a force to reckon with in any era, and the bigs back then were much tougher, let’s be honest. This era’s bigs seem to just stand there rebounding all the missed 3pt shots today.
Granted the game was far different than what he have now, with the 3pt shot and ISO game opposed to the ball movement and inside/outside game of yesteryear, but he was special. I never watched Wilt Chamberlain play, except for TV specials and highlight films but I’ve seen him plenty of times hitting turn around fingeroll flip shots, and even if, that was all he had in his repertoire – if everyone knows that’s all you have – and you’re still dropping 50. That speaks volumes to me.
I feel the amount of disrespect he gets is baffling, Wilt Chamberlain was probably one of the most athletic players in the history of the game. It wasn’t easy to score like Wilt did, or the other bigs he routinely played against would have hung great numbers that he put up as well.
Bill Russell scored 15ppg – Walt Bellamy scored well, but topped over 25 ppg only three times, nothing close to Chamberlain’s scoring ability.
And think about it, back then, the big man was key to any team, he wasn’t alone down low – he was defended, heavily.
People need to appreciate greatness regardless of players and eras, appreciate what they did in their era. And what they did to make the game better and exciting for everyone watching. Understandably, we know times were different – but it’s still insane to what Wilt Chamberlain did when he played.