Wilt Chamberlain was once seen as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s hero and mentor, but those descriptions very quickly changed to ‘crybaby’ and ‘quitter.’
Kareem and Wilt are widely remembered as not only two of the best centers to play in the NBA but also two of the greatest players in basketball history period.
Wilt Chamberlain has the second highest career scoring average behind Michael Jordan at 30.07 while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has the highest point total in the NBA with 38,387. Combined, they have won 8 NBA titles and have a bevy of accolades.
Kareem looked up to Wilt when he entered the league, but those sentiments were very quick to fall apart for various reasons.
don’t mind me recording my television but this story kareem tells about wilt is hilarious 😆 pic.twitter.com/kEVUTtIXJd
— conrad kaz (@conradkaz) July 23, 2021
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Explains Why Wilt Chamberlain Fell In His Eyes
Wilt Chamberlain was always an idol to Kareem when he entered the league. Kareem would recount an experience from the Rucker court saying:
“I first met Wilt Chamberlain right here on the original Rucker court. I was in the eighth grade, I was almost as tall as he was at that point. And it was finally my opportunity to meet my hero….He kinda took me under his wing. Some of the things Wilt did sometimes bothered me (laughs). I got on an elevator with Wilt, and as the elevator’s going down, some guy gets on and says ‘Oh wow, how’s the weather up there?’ to Wilt. Wilt spat on the dude and said ‘It’s raining.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god! What is all of this about?'”
Kareem and Wilt even went head to head several times, earning the respect of each other with each passing series. They first took on each other in the NBA Finals and Western Conference Finals, the pair splitting both series.
However, once Kareem shifted to the Lakers (just like Wilt did), Wilt suddenly became very critical of his game, calling him out on all his flaws and shortcomings.
Kareem would never bring this up during his time in the NBA, but after he retired, Kareem talked about Wilt’s criticism in his autobiography, and he had some pretty harsh words for him.
“Of course, you came out every so often to take a cheap shot at me. During the sixth game of the world championship series in 1988, you stated, “Kareem should have retired five years ago.” I can now see why you said that. If I had quit at the time you suggested, it would have been right after a disappointing loss to the 76ers. And it would have been typical of one of your retreats.”
“Given your jealousy, I can understand that. So , now that I have left, one thing will be part of my legacy: People will remember that I worked with my teammates and helped us win. You will be remembered as a whining crybaby and a quitter, stats and all.”
Kareem had a lot more words for Wilt as well, mostly going on about how Wilt’s criticisms really never meant anything in the grand scheme of things. It’s crazy to think about just how far the relationship between the two have detirorated.