In what will become a daily entry over the course of the next month, Waiver Wire writers Greg Kaplan and Vinny Ginardi will release a list of the the 25 players who they believe to be the best in NBA history. Players were judged on their careers as a whole rather than short stretches of dominance (for example, Bill Walton didn’t make the list due to injuries cutting his career short).
Vinny Ginardi: If you looks solely at statistics, you can make the argument that Wilt Chamberlain was the best player in league history.
Chamberlain led the league in scoring six different times, including one season where he averaged 50.4 points per game (not a typo). He led the league in rebounding in 11 different seasons and finished with career averages of 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds per game. Chamberlain won four MVP award and was named to the All-NBA team 10 times (seven first team). Hell, he even scored 100 points in one game.
So why, despite the statistics, isn’t Wilt ranked higher? Well, because he cared only about the statistics. Yes, Chamberlain did win two NBA titles, but he was notorious for caring more about his performance and how he was viewed than the team itself. How else could someone average more than 50 points for an entire season or score 100 points in a game?
Chamberlain’s statistical accomplishments are remarkable. If only he put all that talent toward winning.
Greg Kaplan: The things Wilt was able to accomplish his career are unbelievable. His numbers, on average, will never be matched again in the history of the game. Nobody will ever score 100 points in a single game, either. Kobe’s 81 is the closest we’ve seen recently, and even that was hard to believe.
Chamberlain played in an era where the amount of players that could compete with him on a nightly basis were in the single digits. He was a player well ahead of his time as far as skill sets go. While his domination likely would have carried over to any other generation in the game’s storied history, he wouldn’t have been putting up the 35+ points a night and 22+ rebounds. That just wouldn’t have happened if he was playing against the likes of Olajuwon, Robinson, Barkley, Ewing, Malone and so on.
Big Wilt was also a notorious stat hound. He was out to get his numbers, and he often didn’t care if that meant costing his team a win in the process. He had goals he wanted to accomplish individually, and often put the team in a worse place because of it.
With that said, Wilt Chamberlain was so dominate that, even when he wasn’t trying to win and just wanted to put up huge numbers, his teams still won. The Big Dipper was an incredible talent, an uncontrollable personality and was just larger than life in an era that didn’t have an answer for a guy his size. His numbers are never going to be approached again, and he is clearly one of the best players to ever appear in the league.
Luckily for Wilt, we aren’t judging the Top 25 teammates or most fun players to play with of all-time. If that was the case, he probably wouldn’t be on the list.
But seriously, how was nobody rolling any camera when he dropped 100 points and 50 rebounds? So depressing.