The NBA’s True GOAT
The facts and myths surrounding Wilt Chamberlain
ESPN has released its annual top 100 NBA players of all time list. While trolls and keyboard warriors across every landscape of social media poke and prod each other about whether or not LeBron James should be #1 instead of #2, the real tragedy of the list is being overlooked by a generation of so-called basketball fans, that have not an inkling of knowledge regarding the history of the game. That injustice, is Wilt Chamberlain being ranked #6 all time, behind not just Mike and LeBron, but Boston's glorified Dennis Rodman with all the jewelry.
The reality that most basketball fans under the age of 40 fail to acknowledge, is that Wilt Chamberlain should probably be #1 on this list. Before you go slapping away at your keyboard like a blindfolded toddler having a hissy fit, spewing about the knowledge you have acquired in 3 years following the sport, let me outline some things that many casual followers of the sport either don’t know, or think they know.
Fact #1: Championships are the result of a great team, not a great player. If they were, then the afore mentioned Boston legend, would be the greatest, with 11 rings, and in reality he may not be one of the top 20 greatest ever. He played in an era with only 8 teams, and one of those teams (his) had 8 Hall of Famers. If the 92 dream team were an actual NBA team, would we really be calling Patrick Ewing a top 5 player, because he had 11 rings?
Fact #2: Great players dwarf their competition in individual stats. OK, so this really more 1A, but a player with multiple titles, that averages 15ppg (Russell?), can’t be one of the best ever.
Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50ppg on season. The same season he averaged 48.5 minutes per game. WHAT?! He averages over 20RPG for his career. When you look at most career 50 point games, Michael Jordan is second with 31. 31 times, he scored 50 or more in a game. That’s really good. Wilt did it 118 times.
When you look at players with most consecutive games scoring 40 or more, Wilt is #1, #2, and #3 on that list.
He averaged over 40mpg for his entire career, and in 13 years in the NBA, never fouled out of a single game (regular season or playoffs). In terms of 30/30 games (everyone knows what that is? cool.), second place is Bill Russell with 3. First place is Wilt, with 126.
The same way that Babe Ruth is the greatest because he more homeruns one year, then the rest of the american league combined (insane, right?), and Wayne Gretzky is the greatest because he could have scored 0 goals in his NHL career and still have more points than any other player in NHL history (and he has more goals than any player), Wilt Chamberlain's dominance is something never experienced by MJ, or any other player since the leagues inception.
Falsehood #1: Wilt dominated because he was so much taller than everyone. Centers were like 6’4 back then.
Wrong. In Wilt's time, the average NBA player was 6’5.5, versus when MJ played, it was 6’6. The average center in Wilt's day was 6’10-6’11, and one guy was 7’2. Lets face it, if height equaled dominance, then why didn't Shawn Bradley or Gheorge Muresean average 50ppg? Because height doesn't matter if it isn't supported by skill and athleticism.
Fact #3: Wilt was a Bo Jackson type athlete
Forget that Wilt Chamberlain is in the pro hall of fame in 2 different sports, let’s look at his measurables. He could bench press 450 pounds. This is confirmed by many, most notably, Arnold Schwartzenegger, who said he never lifted with a stronger human than Wilt.
He had a 42” vertical. That’s 7’2 and 275 of pure muscle, with a Vince Carter vertical. In track, he ran the 100m in 11 seconds. If you don’t follow track, Olympic gold medal sprinters in Wilt Chamberlain's day were running 10 seconds.
Falsehood #2: He wasn’t very skilled.
Before joining the NBA, Wilt Chamberlain played for the Harlem Globetrotters. He could handle the ball like a modern day PG.
So, maybe in today's game he wouldn’t average 50ppg. But he also wouldn't be averaging 48.5 minutes. They’d rest this guy, and he’d have a long career in modern basketball, most likely averaging 32 and 18. Winning multiple MVP’s, and hopefully they’d put him on a team with 8 hall of famers, so he could shut people up about stupid rings.
Mike never dominated like Wilt, and probably no player ever will again. That’s what makes Wilt, the true NBA GOAT.