The rivalry between legends Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain defined NBA in the 1960s. While Wilt won only 2 rings compared to Bill’s 11, he wasn’t ready to concede the match up.
Wilt Chamberlain, during his prime, was an absolute force of nature. Standing at a massive 7’1″, 275 pounds, the 4-time MVP was athletic beyond belief. The records speak for themselves. Averaging 50 points for the season, scoring 100 points a game, you name it, Wilt has probably done it.
The accolades do not end there. Wilt bagged the scoring title for 7 straight seasons, in addition to his insane 11 rebounding titles. How does that resume not guarantee him being unanimously regarded as the GOAT of NBA basketball?
The answer: Bill Russell. The Boston Celtics legend was a constant thorn in Wilt’s way, with his team dominating the playoffs for an entire decade. In match ups between their teams, Bill Russell’s rosters won three Game-7s by a margin of two points or less. Heartbreak after heartbreak for Wilt somewhat tainted his legacy, with him winning 2 rings to his rival’s 11.
While Wilt’s teams absolutely dominated the league in the regular season, the Russell-led Celtics would outplay them every time in the playoffs. Wilt, however, always vehemently denied the fact that Bill Russell was better than him. “Russell didn’t win 11 championships. He played on teams that won 11 championships.”
Bill Russell and the Celtics were packed with Hall of Famers including legends like Bob Cousy and John Havlicek among others.
Wilt went on to claim how he had dominated their one-on-one match up most of the time. “I can’t tell you how many times I got Russell in foul trouble, and the Celtics [reserve] Gene Conley guarding me and they’d send Russell to the corner.” Wilt reportedly once had 55 rebounds against Bill, further exemplifying his opinion.
Wilt had more to say with regard to the quality of that Celtics team apart from their leader, Bill. “Celtics were bailed out by Sam Jones or John Havlicek coming off the bench multiple times.” The only time Wilt won against Bill in a playoff setting was during his time with Philadelphia.
Wilt’s frustrations with his legacy were clearly apparent. It seems like the debate between legacies of both legends will rage on till eternity.