“Don’t know how many wins Wilt Chamberlain cheated his team out of”: When Bill Russell’s Celtics teammate, John Havlicek, pointed out the Lakers legend’s ‘greatest idiosyncrasy’

Samir Mehdi
|Published April 04, 2022

John Havilcek once wrote in his book that Wilt Chamberlain may have cheated his teams out of several victories. 

Wilt Chamberlain is undoubtedly one of the greatest and perhaps the most dominant player to have ever played the game of basketball. His rivalry with Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics made the NBA a mainstream stable for several North American sports lovers and set the tone for many generational players to come after them. 

The two narratives that surrounded each of these Olympian level athletes were that Wilt Chamberlain only cared about stats and that Bill Russell cared about winning. With the way their careers panned out, this more or less defines exactly what they both stood for.

Also read: “My mother told me to not feed Bill Russell so well”: Wilt Chamberlain let the Celtics legend sleep over at his place just to get his butt kicked the next day

Wilt was the one who put up 60+ points ever other night while Russell was the one who stood in the paint, patiently waiting to block shots and generate fast-breaks. Russell’s play cost him his stats but it brought him glory in the long run. 

11 championships to 2 championships. A ratio of 5.5:1 is what separates Wilt and Bill. 

John Havilcek on Wilt Chamberlain. 

John Havilcek was one of the greatest Boston Celtics and brought 8 championships to the city of Boston with several of them alongside Bill Russell. Having played two years against Wilt Chamberlain, Hondo knew exactly what made the ‘The Big Dipper’ tick.

Also read: “Hearing about Wilt Chamberlain and those guys is like hearing about Zeus”: Kevin Durant mythologizes the ‘Big Dipper’ and the 60s superstars

In his self titled memoir, ‘Hondo’, Havilcek wrote about how Wilt cost his teams several victories because of his incessant need to never foul out of a game. For context, Chamberlain prided himself in having never fouled out of a game in high school, college, or in the NBA and he intended to keep that record alive. 

“Wilt’s greatest idiosyncrasy was not fouling out. He had never fouled out of a high school, college, or professional game and that was one record he was determined to protect. When he got that fourth foul, his game would change. I don’t know how many potential victories he may have cheated his team out of by not really playing after he got into foul trouble,” wrote Hondo. 

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About the author

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi

Samir Mehdi is a senior strategist for the NBA division at The Sportsrush. Ever since he was 13 years old, he’s been obsessed with the game of basketball. From watching Kobe Bryant’s highlights on YouTube to now, analyzing and breaking down every single game on League Pass, Samir’s passion for the game is unwavering. He's a complete basketball junkie who not only breaks down current games but also keenly watches ones from the 60s’ and 70s’ while also reading comprehensive books on the history of the league. Samir’s life revolves around basketball and he hopes that shows in his work. Aside from work, he loves to spend time in the gym and with his friends at social gatherings.

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