‘Wilt Chamberlain wanted nothing but to sleep and party before a game’ – Pat Riley recalls how Wilt reacted to Bill Sharman’s modern day shoot around

Arun Sharma
|Published April 23, 2022

Wilt Chamberlain was a force to be reckoned with – but he was as lazy as they came.

The man, the myth, the legend – Wilt Chamberlain is an enigma to most people live today. He worked himself into the annals by the sheer force of his demeanor. Wilt was a superhuman in his own right, an absolute unit of a player. But he also knew this and wasn’t as inclined as the rest of his peers to push himself to be in shape.

He moved to Los Angeles Lakers in 1968 to team up with the likes of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. It was during that time that the Lakers were going through a bit of a shakeup, right from the coach to the players. Bill Sharman, a Celtics legend was brought into the setup to start winning –  and winning fast.

He was known for his radical thinking and strict methodologies, and he was the first person to introduce game-day shootarounds. While the rest of the team accepted the new change, Wilt did not want anything to do with it. he was vehemently against it and did not want to change his playboy lifestyle for a hobby at that point.

Pat Riley was a part of the legendary 1971-72 team, and he witnessed the reluctance firsthand. He saw Chamberlain turn up almost drunk to practice but put up epic performances come game-time.

Also Read: “The 1971-72 Lakers’ 33-game win streak remains the longest in all 4 major American sports leagues”: How Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, and Wilt Chamberlain rallied the Lakeshow after Elgin Baylor’s October 1971 retirement

Wilt Chamberlain could have been so much more had he been interested in staying disciplined

He did bend to Sharman’s ways and even came in to practice on his off days, once he saw results showing for the other players. Wilt was a winner at heart, lost in the lifestyle he built for himself. He was a person who could move weights like it was nothing but could not hit a free throw to save his life.

Something about big men not being able to make free throws – just ask Shaquille O’Neal. If only he was disciplined enough to work on the flaws of his game, he would be at a level no one could even dare dream of. Scoring records would look different, and he would not have had enough fingers for championship rings.

The man played basketball for fun, yet ended up being the most dominant player of all time. Now imagine what he could have achieved with the work ethic of a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan – he would be the literal basketball god.

Also Read: “One non-Wilt Chamberlain stat that will not be broken? Rasheed Wallace’s 41 Tech fouls in a season!”: The Detroit man was called the Dirty 30 for a reason

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About the author

Arun Sharma

Arun Sharma

Arun Sharma is an NBA Editor at The SportsRush. A double degree holder and a digital marketer by trade, Arun has always been a sports buff. He fell in love with the sport of basketball at a young age and has been a Lakers fan since 2006. What started as a Kobe Bryant obsession slowly turned into a lifelong connection with the purple and gold. Arun has been an ardent subscriber to the Mamba mentality and has shed tears for a celebrity death only once in his life. He believes January 26, 2020, was the turning point in the passage of time because Kobe was the glue holding things together. From just a Lakers bandwagoner to a basketball fanatic, Arun has spent 16 long years growing up along with the league. He thinks Stephen Curry has ruined basketball forever, and the mid-range game is a sight to behold. Sharma also has many opinions about football (not the American kind), F1, MotoGP, tennis, and cricket.

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