Wilt Chamberlain had all sorts of questionable takes on Michael Jordan, but this particular one on Conan O’Brien’s show takes the cake.
Wilt Chamberlain vies with Shaquille O’Neal for the title of ‘Most Dominant Ever’, and with good reason. The 7’2″ behemoth was the first NBA superstar, and some of his statistical achievements are actually incomprehensible.
He’s averaged over 48 minutes per game playing at the fastest pace in league history while running up and down, weighing over 300 pounds. He jumped out of the gym and dunked on free throws before it was deemed illegal.
Wilt averaged 50 points and 25 rebounds for a whole season and didn’t win MVP! But that was mainly because in his initial years, Wilt was perceived as a selfish guy who cared more about his stats than winning.
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This was obviously untrue, but this notion remains popular even today. Many people knock him down a peg or two in their GOAT rankings because of this reason. As a result, Wilt developed a chip on his shoulder for players in latter eras.
Wilt Chamberlain explained why Michael Jordan could have been benched in the 60s
One of his more preposterous takes on Michael Jordan was regarding how MJ was ‘too much of a showman’ to be liked or revered in his era. This is what Wilt said about Michael back in 1997, in an appearance on Conan:
“Michael Jordan is one of those rare specimens that could play at any particular time. A gifted athlete who’s using those gifts in basketball, incredibly so. He has been the liaison between something that’s not so good to making it great for all of us.”
“His playing style – he’s 6’6″ and he’s like 197 pounds. Coming into our domain, what we call the pivot foot spin move would not have been very wise.”
“If he was playing during our time. So we would say ‘Michael, as long as you do those fashionable things outside of where we are, that’s fine’. It wouldn’t have been good for Michael. I know he’d have been crushed.”
“Michael is the epitome of show business. During my time, if he’d have done a 360, first of all, it would’ve been considered disrespectful. The coach of your own team would bench you.”