Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain
Chamberlain wasn't just big, at 7'2" he was very big, but he was an all-around great athlete, as well. A track and field star in High School and College, he came into the NBA with skills never seen before in any big man.
He once averaged 50 ppg for an entire season (1961-62) and over 40 ppg (44.8 ppg in 1962-63) and averaged over 35 ppg over his first five seasons in the NBA! He scored 100 points in a single professional game...against the New York Knicks and even played for the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959. He was easily recognized as the greatest individual; player of his or any generation, only rivaled now by Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Chamberlain even led the League in assists once...as a Center. An unprecedented feat at the time.
Ironically enough, Wilt Chamberlain, when remembered at all today, is famous mostly for losing NBA Championships, mostly to Bill Russell's Celtics.
BUT those matches were far from even.
The Celtics had a veritable All Star team around Russell, which included the likes of Bob Cousy, the greatest point guard of that generation and part of an All Star backcourt with the great Bill Sharman, during the 1950s and early 60s. During the 1960s they were loaded with the likes of Sam Jones, Tom Havlicek, K.C. Jones, Tommy Heinsohn and others.
Holding Chamberlain's two NBA Championships against him, is akin to holding Jerry West's ONE ring against him. Of course, West was the original "Logo" for the NBA and the ONLY player in NBA history to win a Finals MVP from a losing team...in the 1969 NBA Finals loss to the Celtics, when West, who tore a hamstring in Game 5, scored 26 in Game 6 and registered a Game 7 Triple Double with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.
STILL judging players solely by the number of Championships they rack up is extremely short-sighted. Karl Malone and John Stockton remain one of the League's most dynamic duos and yet neither won a Championship over their NBA careers. They're STILL great players.
So Wilt Chamberlain is also among the NBA's All Time greats, despite having always been seen as the "hated favorite" and the "big villain" to his "underdog" opponents.
Many people love to root against favorites. Players like Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James (LBJ) make easy targets for such "fans." Nothing such players do is ever "good enough." The bar seems set impossibly high.
Despite ALL of Wilt's accomplishments, the term "BIG Loser" is more often associated with Chamberlain than "All-time great." LeBron James' going 2 and 4 so far in NBA Finals has also been the focus of many such "fans" and been used to disparage and diminish him.
In truth, the early Cleveland teams he was on had no business in the Playoffs and never would've made the Playoffs without LBJ. Last year's Cleveland team was pretty much James alone, as Irving and Love were both injured.
This year, he has personally led the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit. No matter what happens tonight LeBron James is NOT a "Loser," despite the fact that almost "NO ONE roots for Goliath."Somewhere, I think, Wilt is pulling for LeBron.