hi, first of all I want to say that I'm from spain so my english is not the greatest and I can't express myself as I'd like, and it might happen that I get misunderstood sometimes. so let's see if I can make my point clear.
I wanted to open this topic because I always hear and read how most people rank chamberlain as the 2nd best and even as the greatest player of all time, and I can not disagree more...that statment is always based on the same: his career stats, his 50.4 pts and 25.7 rb season and his 100 points game.
so I want to show that even though his stats were impressive, if you look at them closer and you analize them, you find out they were not all that impressive.
so let's start at the beginning with his:
statistically, chamberlain's best seasons were his first 5(1959-1964), were he averaged: 41.62 pts and 25.3 rb and... 47.28 minutes per game...
yes, that is never mentioned, but wilt is the player that most minutes played in nba history. the 1961-62 season were he averaged 50pts&25rb, he also averaged 48.5 min. pg!! that is a virtue it self because it shows how strong he was but obviously I think it's not fair to compare his stats with the rest having played those many minutes.
in fact, if you take some of the greatest players stats and you apply them 48.5 min per game(or 47.28) you get some interesting things.
let's take a look at michael jordan stats, with whom he usually competes to be considered the greatest, and see what happens.
if we take M.J's 5 best season from 1986 to 1991, this is what we get: 33'94 pts, 6'32 rb and 6'06 ast in 39'32 min pg, if we now apply 47.28 minutes this is the result: 40'81 pts, 7'6 rb and 7'28 ast.
and if we take his best scoring season(1986-87) were he averaged 37.1 pts and put it in 48.5 min we get this: 45 pts pg.
another way to look at the stats is at 36 min pg, if we do this we get this: chamberlain: 23.6 pts, 18 rb, 3.5ast / michael jordan: 28.3 pts, 5.9 rb, 4.9 ast.
and if you are impressed with chamberlain stats being 7'1 and super athletic, then how impressed should you be with the stats of players that played in the same decade that were a lot shorter and less athletic?
what about players like bob petit(6'9) who had seasons of 27.9 pts-20.3 rb or 31pts-18.7 in 41 min pg. or jerry lucas(6'8) with seasons of 21.4 pts-20 rb and 21.5 pts- 21.1 rb. or what about elgin baylor who at 6.5!! had seasons of 34.8 pts-19-8 rb and 38.3 pts-18-3 rb...
let's now talk about another issue: height of players in the 60's.
height is something that we can not overlook, in order to understand wilt's stats.
the truth is that most of the centers he played against were shorter than him, especially in his first 8-9 seasons where the only other big man in the league were nate thurmond(6'11) and walt bellamy(6'11) and he would have to wait until 1968-1970 to compete against other big men like karem(7'2), bob lanier(6'11), sam lacey(6'10) or tom boerwinkle(7').
but again, most of the big men were a lot shorter and they were around 6'8-6'9: b.russell, e.hayes, z.beaty, r.scott, w.reed, r.kerr, j.lucas, b.petit, w.embry or b.rule. and even shorter than that, there were 6'5-6'7 centers like: b.bridges, p.silas, t.heinsohn, j.washington, b,howell, w.nauls, w.unseld or g. johnson.
could you imagine how would have been shaquille o'neal's career if he had been defended by players like that?
let's talk now about the next issue, pace and rules.
back in the 60's the pace of the game was a lot faster than today's, and teams would usually average around 120 points pg. that means you get a lot more chances to score points and to get rebounds.
that's why centers averaged so many rebounds and even guards did so. and that's why you had guards like oscar robertson, clif hagan, d. debusschere, tom gola or elgyn baylor that had seasons over 10, 12, 14 and even 19 rebounds pg like baylor.
rules back then were not as strict as now and referees would not call as much as today the 3 seconds in the key.
also, the key was shorter than today until 1965. that is a huge advantage for a 7'1 guy even though he did not use his force as much as he could have.
and finally I'll talk about my last point.
4.chamberlain's 100 point game:
people always talk about how dominant wilt was because he was able to score 100 poits. well I really believe that kobe bryant's 81 points game was a lot more difficult to achieve.
wilt scored 100 points but his team scored 169 pts!! while kobe scored 81 out of 122...
every one who saw wilt's game and even historians say that the 4th quarter was just a farce, and his team was trying desperately to get wilt the record, while kobe's game was a close game until the last 5 minutes.
wilt played 48 minutes while kobe only 42.
and off course not to mention that it is a lot more difficult to score from outside than below the basket...
well this is it. because all of this and because wilt chamberlain was only able to win 2 championships I think that he is NOT the GREATEST PLAYER.
Valid points with good stats to back them up. And very good English as well.
I think Jordan is the best player to ever play the game, but I think Wilt should be recognized right up at the top. Every so often people come along that CHANGE the game. Wilt did exactly that, you mention the shorter key, but you failed to mention that they changed it BECAUSE of Wilt Chamberlain.
Chamberlain may have played a lot of minutes in a different era, but his dominance should be acknowledged. I don't think Wilt would score 50 ppg in today's game, but I firmly believe he would be the best center in the game today if he were in his prime. He was bigger, stronger, a better leaper and a better passer (lead the league in assists with 8.6 in 67-68) than Dwight Howard who is clearly the best center in the league. I have no doubt that if Chamberlain were playing today he'd be a 30+ ppg scorer 15+ rpg 4+ bpg type player in today's game.
Again, I think MJ is #1, but I think Wilt is #2.
I hate when people use the "he only won 2 championships" card when defining Wilt's career. The 1960s Celtics were the best Dynasty in sports period. At times the Celtics had hall-of-famers near their prime COMING OFF THE BENCH! The NBA had less teams and more stars per team than it does now, but their has never been a team as stacked for such a long period of time as that Celtic Dynasty.
I think if Wilt played in todays game his streak of never fouling out would not last long.
They did a pace adjusted type deal ayear or so ago comparing Wilt palying at the same pace as teams during the year Kobe scored 81 and his 100 point game was something closer to 60 something. Kobe pace adjusted to the year Wilt scored 100 and and Kobe's point total was something closer to 130 something.