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Wilt Chamberlain

The greatest player in NBA History

This page is devoted to Wilt Chaimberlain: the greatest player in NBA History.  Even though he has been retired for nearly 3 decades Wilt holds more regular season scoring and rebounding records than every other player in NBA history combined.

Stat Total Records Records Held By Wilt Records held by everybody else combined
Scoring 26 17 9
Rebounds 13 9 4

 

Wilts' career:

Stat Career High Game High Season Average  Career Average/Game
Minutes 63 48.5 45.8
Points 100 50.4 30.2
Field Goal % 1.00 (18/18) .727 .540
Rebounds 55 27.2 22.9
Assists 21 8.6 4.4

Bold: indicates NBA record

Bold: indicates NBA record for centers

During his unparalleled career Wilt rewrote the record books.  No other player before or since has even come close to the all around domination that Wilt put on the NBA.  

Critics complained that he didn't pass enough, so Wilt went out and won the assist title in 1967-68.  Then they complained that he wasn't dominant enough on the defensive end (in spite of being the #1 rebounder in league history) so Wilt went out and made the all defense team (the award started in his 10th season) in his last 2 years.

The league tried widening the lanes and changing rules in a futile attempt to slow his domination.  Wilt was so devastating that he was accused (incorrectly) of point shaving during the 1966-67 season in which his Philadelphia 76ers went 68-13!  In spite of all the rule changes to help offensive players in the 28 years since he retired Wilt still holds 50 NBA records- more than any other player in history.  

Among Wilt's most astonishing achievements was the only Double Triple-Double in NBA history: 22 points 25 rebounds and 21 assists on February 2, 1968 vs. Detroit.

Wilt's competition:

Wilt played against a very large number of great and dominant centers in his 14 year career, here is the list:

Any one of the above centers in their prime would at WORST be the second best center in today's NBA.  All of them except Bob Lanier (20ppg, 9rpg career) appeared on the 50 greatest players list put out by the NBA in 1996.  It is interesting to note that except for Russel & Schayes all of the above players were young or in their prime during the 1971-72 season when Wilt's Lakers won 33 consecutive games, went 69-13 & won the NBA Championship.

 

Wilt vs. the other all time greats:

Player PPG RPG APG TOT* ST RT AT
Wilt Chamberlain 30.2 22.9 4.4 61.9 7 11 1
Oscar Robertson 25.7 7.5 9.7 52.6 0 0 6
Magic Johnson 19.5 7.2 11.2 49.1 0 0 4
Elgin Baylor 27.0 13.5 4.1 48.7 0 0 0
Michael Jordan 30.1 6.2 5.4 47.1 11 0 0
Larry Bird 24.3 10.0 6.3 46.6 0 0 0
Bill Russel 15.1 22.6 4.3 46.3 0 2 0
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 24.6 11.2 3.6 43.0 2 1 0
ST: Scoring Titles      RT: Rebounding Titles AT: Assist Titles

* assists are multiplied by 2 to account for points scored before being added in to TOT

The other great players:

Oscar Robertson

Oscar was quite possibly the king of the triple double.  Oscar averaged 30 points 11 rebounds and 12 assists over his first 6 seasons.  No other player has averaged a triple double for even one season.  Oscar made his teammates better like no other player in history.  Oscar is one of the greatest rebounding guards in history.  Offensively Oscar played the game at nearly the same level as Wilt.  However on defense Oscar was good, but not great.

Magic Johnson

Johnson was a legend at making his teammates better, he would pass for a basket every bit as readily as he would do it himself. It didn't hurt Johnson that he always had a load of talent around him (at one point he had 3 former #1 draft picks as teammates (Jabbar, Worthy, Thompson). Johnson was a solid defender, but he did not dominate on that end of the floor.

Elgin Baylor

Forgotten by nearly everyone in the "best player ever" debate Baylor's career stats (27ppg, 13.5rpg, 4.1apg) are enough to make every current NBA center other than Shaquille O'Neal green with envy.  Even more amazing is that Baylor is only 6'5" (one inch shorter than all-time great shooting guard Michael Jordan).  Baylor has been sited as possibly the best ever by Both Wilt Chaimberlain and Oscar Robertson.  Baylor easily belongs among the all-time best even though he never led the league in scoring, rebounding or assists.

Michael Jordan

The most popular athlete of the 20th century, Jordan holds the record for highest per game scoring average for an entire career.  He was also a dominant one-on one defender.  While Jordan has the highest career per game scoring average in NBA history he has never dominated the areas of the game that do not bring him personal glory: such as rebounding and assists.  When Jordan was asked to score less and raise the level of his teammates by passing more in the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals game 5 he rebelled and quit shooting entirely in an attempt to demonstrate that his points were the most important.  With this career approach Jordan only leads Wilt by 0.04 points in career scoring average.  In contrast Wilt sacrificed his scoring in an effort to help his team by passing more and playing dominant defense.  When Wilt was solely a scorer he averaged 39 points per game over 7 years.  This does not even get into Wilt's leading the league in Field Goal Percentage (single game & single season record holder), Rebounding (the all time leading rebounder for game, season and career), Assists (the only center ever to do so, and Wilt's career high(8.6apg) is more than Jordan's(8.0) despite Wilt playing center & having to play under tougher rules governing assists) and Minutes (Wilt averaged over 45min/game for his career despite no chartered jets and a more tightly packed schedule): all feats Jordan has never accomplished.

Larry Bird

Bird was known as "Larry Legend" because of the way he made his presence known all over the court. Bird dominated in nearly all offensive categories. Larry Bird was a crafty defender, but he was not a dominant defender like Wilt or Jordan.

Bill Russel

    Russel is the greatest winner in the history of pro sports with 11 NBA Titles in 13 years.  Even with that fact in mind Russel himself once stated: "Wilt could do my role better than I could".

Kareem Abdul Jabbar

    After he became the all time points leader in NBA history Kareem's supporters tried to say that he was better than Wilt, however the argument did not hold up to scrutiny.  At 7'2" Kareem was not as good a rebounder as either Russel or Chaimberlain.   As far as titles go Kareem's titles were all won while he had either one of the two greatest point guards in history (Oscar Robertson & Magic Johnson).  Kareem has more MVP awards but MVP awards are subjective: Wilt's 50ppg 25rpg season did not win him the MVP award, and who has had a better season than that?

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