and Stupid Myths -- Shot Down!
1. Bill Russell shut down Wilt -- According to Sixer stat man Harvey Pollack, Wilt and Russell squared off 142 times. Wilt averaged 28.7 points and 28.7 rebounds in those games. Russell averaged 23.7 points and 14.5 rebounds against Wilt (Russell's career average was 22.5 and Wilt's was 22.9, so it sure looks like Russell wasn't controlling the boards in those games!) Wilt had a 62 point game on January 14, 1962, in Boston and had 6 other games of 50 points against Russell. The most Russell ever scored against Wilt was 37, and he had only two other 30-point games.
Wilt grabbed an NBA-record 55 rebounds against
Russell on November 24, 1960, and had six other games of at least 40 rebounds against
Russell. When the Sixers beat the Celtics in the 1967 playoffs, Wilt averaged
22 points, 32 rebounds, and 10 assists -- a triple double-- against Russell! In the
clinching game 5, he had 29 points, 36 rebounds, and 13 assists. If all of this is
being "shut down" then Michael Jordan has been shut down by the Cleveland
Cavaliers during his entire career. Michael Cooper shut down Larry Bird in the
finals, because the Lakers beat the Celtics 2 out of 3 times! If this is being
"shut down", then there isn't a player in the NBA that hasn't been "shut
down" every single night of his career!
2. Wilt was a loser --
This myth is so stupid, that I devoted an entire section to shooting down this asinine
statement. Click here to see how using this stupid logic
results in the conclusion that Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and
Larry Bird are also losers. I don't believe these guys are losers, but I am
showing how people don't want to admit their double-standards.
3. Players today are so much better!
There weren't forwards in Wilt's era who could handle the ball like Scottie Pippen. For idiots who say this, I can only respond with:
learn who Connie Hawkins was.
4. In Wilt's era, there weren't undersized
players who could rebound like Charles Barkley. For idiots who
say this, I can only respond with: learn who Wes Unseld was.
5. Wilt could only dunk. When somebody says this, you can tell he or she never saw Wilt play. Wilt's strongest "go to" moves were his fadeaway and his finger roll. If you get the video "Story of a game", you will see Wilt shooting jump shots at KU. You even see him lead a fast break, and whip a pass behind his back to the wingman. Furthermore, chew on this quote:
[Carl Braun said] "He [Wilt] disorganizes you
under the basket the same way [as Bill Russell, on defense]. With Wilt, of course,
there's that offense on top of it, which is better than Russell's. He hit on all
"Yes, Wilt hit on those jumpers...Wilt did come into the league with a good touch from the outside, which made his early scoring that much more significant. He wasn't just dunking the ball then."
--Red Holzman. A View from the Bench.
6. Wilt was only dominating because he was bigger than everybody. Those who say this need to get familiar with two players: Walter Dukes and Swede Halbrook. Dukes was the first 7'0" center and was drafted in 1955. Dukes enjoyed a height advantage over his opponents and was supposed to dominate the league, much like George Mikan had. However, Dukes never averaged more than 14.1 PPG. Halbrook was bigger than Wilt. At 7'3", Halbrook should have overwhelmed Wilt and the rest of the league according to this logic. Instead, Halbrook only played 2 seasons and had career highs of 7.0 PPG and 6.3 RPG. Instead of dominating, he warmed the bench for 6'9" Johnny "Red" Kerr.
Why didn't these 2 dominate? Because there is more to greatness than size. Look at modern day examples: George Muresan and Shawn Bradley enjoy more size advantage than Wilt ever had, yet these 2 have never came close to even making an all-star game. Manute Bol, Chuck Nevitt, Mark Eaton, Randy Breuer are all over 7'2" and never were dominating scorers. Heck, none of them were dominating *anything*, except Eaton, who could play defense. The only *decent* offensive players over 7'2" in history are Rik Smits, who is a puny rebounder and shot blocker, and Ralph Sampson, who was solid in his early years, but never the kind of dominator that Wilt was. Sampson also, happens to be the only athletic player on the entire list.
Wilt was a superior athlete, possessing amazing jumping ability and unparalleled strength. No center since has had his abilities. For instance, Patrick Ewing is big and has size, but he lacks Wilt's strength and athleticism. Shaquille O'Neal is big and pretty athletic, but not as athletic as Wilt, and he lacks the strength (though he is strong!), jumping ability, and especially the fundamentals, of Wilt. Wilt was simply an awesome package of basketball in a 7'1" frame.
7. Wilt couldn't hang in today's (late 1990s) fast paced NBA. Today's NBA is slower than it has ever been -- at lest since the shot clock was introduced. The fast break is all but dead. Just watch an 80s game on the Classic Sports Network, if you won't take my word for it. The early 1960s, was the fastest pace in league history. Even with all that running, Wilt clocked in 48.5 minutes per night. His stamina is unmatched. He would have an easy time in today's walk-it-up-the-court NBA.
8. Wilt got so many rebounds
because there were so many more to be had. I especially hear this from people
who wish to jock Dennis Rodman. However, Wilt was a multi-dimensional player, unlike
Rodman. Wilt did it all. Rodman does little. Heck, if his counterpart
wanders too far outside, Rodman quits guarding him, because it will take away from his
precious rebounding stats. Remember game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in
1995? Remember Robert Horry hitting the game-winning 3? Remember who was supposed
to be guarding him? Yep, Rodman, and Rodman was parked under the basket. If
Wilt did nothing else but pad his rebounding numbers, saving his energy for ONLY that,
they would be so much higher! It doesn't matter how many rebounds were there to be
had, Wilt almost ALWAYS led the league!
9. Wilt played in an era when the centers were 6'6." The only 6'6" center from Wilt's era was Wes Unseld, who was a dominating rebounder in the 1970s and threw the best outlet passes in history. Unseld retired in 1981.
There were 6'10" centers and occasionally, a 6'8" center (Wayne Embry), however, I really don't see what the relevance of this is. Look at the guys who are 6'9" or shorter who have started center during between 1995-97: Lorenzo Williams, Ed Pinckney, Popeye Jones, Antoine Walker, Clarence Weatherspoon, Antonino Davis, Don Reid, Armon Gilliam, Antoine Carr, Tyronne Hill, and Sam Perkins. Don Nelson used to run a 4-guard lineup at Golden State, and Paul Westphal occasionally used 6'-4.5" Charles Barkley at center, who backed up 6'9" Oliver Miller!
To top it off, there are shorter centers, like Alonzo Mourning (6'10") and Hakeem Olajuwon (6'11" -- according to his autobiography) dominating a league that is full of unathletic 7'0" centers, like Bryant Reeves, Luc Longley, and Chris Dudley! Give me Willis Reed, Walt Bellamy, Zelmo Beaty, Bill Russell, and Wayne Embry anyday!
Let me put it this way. If Wilt played in an era when centers were 6'6", then Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan played in an era when guards were 5'3" (Muggsy Bogues).
10. Players today have it harder than players from Wilt's era. I can't help but LAUGH when I hear this one. Today's players have specialized trainers, guaranteed contracts, chartered jets, and first class hotels, among other perks. Compared to the players from Wilt's era, they are living a life of luxury! The players in Wilt's era took red-eye flights at all hours of the night, in order to save expenses. Their hotel accommodations were not what today's players have. The trainer was a guy who taped your ankles, unless you were on the road, and then you taped your own ankles. Heck, the players even had to do their own laundry in their hotel rooms! Instead of back-to-back games, they played back-to-back-to-back games, which is unheard of in today's league. Next to "Russell dominated Wilt", I think this one is the most stupid of all of the things on this list.
11. You just hype-up Wilt because you are from Kansas and he went to college there. I take that back -- this is the most stupid. I graduated from Kansas STATE University. KU is my sworn enemy. This is like saying that a Texas A&M person jocks a Texas Longhorn! I am NO fan of Danny Manning, Jo Jo White, Darnell Valentine, Greg Ostertag, Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrenz, Phog Allen, or any of the other bums to come out of Lawrence! I acknowledge that Wilt is the greatest player in history, DESPITE the fact that he went to my 3rd favorite university (K-State is my favorite, everybody else is #2!).
12. Wilt couldn't score big numbers against today's centers. Heh heh. And who, pray tell, is going to stop him? Wilt is simply bigger and stronger than David Robinson Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing. He could outjump every current center in the league. He's far too athletic and strong for even Shaq to stop.
Opponents used to put multiple players on Wilt (the defined "illegal defense" rules weren't in place until the 1980s), and they still couldn't stop him. Opponents used to put their elbows into Wilt (illegal today), and they still couldn't stop him. They used to mug the guy, and the refs allowed it, because they were trying to help the other guys, since Wilt was too overwhelming. Today, superstars get preferential treatment. Nearly every single rule passed since the 1960s, has been to help the offense have an easier time. Wilt would simply dominate the league with these easier rules. He would lead the league in scoring, rebounding, blocks, and be near the top in fg%, and he would certainly lead all centers in assists. Hakeem, Ewing, Parish, and company couldn't even stop Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who wasn't nearly as powerful and athletic as Wilt!
Wayne Embry said that Wilt would have no problems with today's defenses (see They said it). He was simply too strong. Look at how Shaq muscles over them, and he wasn't as athletic nor as strong as Wilt! Plus, Wilt had the jump shot, the fadeaway jump shot, and he was a FAR superior passer than Shaq. If teams double-down on Wilt, he's going to hit the open man for the easy shots.
13. You can't trust what Wilt says, he says he slept with 20,000 women. I often hear this from petty little people who are jealous because they look upon sexual prowess as something to be admired above, or nearly above, all,. Wilt has went on record as saying that he used hyperbole (exaggeration used to demonstrate a point). Heck, if we are judging basketball players based on what they say, how about we judge Michael Jordan after he said he wore #45 because he would never wear #23 again -- what did he end up wearing? Also, in his own book, Rare Air, written before his first retirement, he said that when he retired, he would never return, yet he returned not once, but twice from retirement. Wilt made a point that he got around, and chances are, he got around more than you. If you feel jealousy because of this, then that is your problem. Wilt went on to say that it's better to make love to one woman 20,000 times than 20,000 different women, so perhaps he was trying to make a point. Get a clue.
14. You can't compare eras. Yeah, especially when it makes the other guy look bad, huh! So, when is this "imaginary line" that defines eras? I can only think of one -- the shot clock. See there is too much overlap to make this a valid statement. For instance, Kareem Abdul Jabbar played in Wilt's era. He also played in the 1980s against Ewing and Olajuwon. Kareem was a top-rate center in both eras, making first team All-NBA at the age of 38! Olajuwon and Ewing are still dominating today. Dr. J dominated the league in the early 70s (ABA), late 70s and early 80s (NBA). Larry Bird dominated in the early 80s to the early 90s. There is simply too much overlap! Dominating players dominate, regardless of "era." Most of the superstars today are old guys from last decade (Stockton, Malone, Olajuwon, Ewing, Richmond, etc).
When Michael Jordan fans say this, I
point out their absurdity by saying LeBron James is better, because Jordan
played in a different era. When Jordan played in the 2000s, he
sucked. Meanwhile, when Jordan had his 63 point playoff game, the world
champs (who he lost to) had 8 white guys starting, so if race is brought into
a Wilt discussion, I fire it right back at a Jordan fan. When Jordan
competed against players like Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, and
Tracy McGrady in their primes, he was getting humiliated in Washington, and he
never had to play LeBron, so Jordan played in an inferior era. Sauce for
the goose is sauce for the gander. Absurdity is absurdity because a
great athlete will dominate in any era.
15. Wilt can't bench press 500 pounds, that is a physical impossibility for a man with arms as long as his! I actually had a guy tell me this, and he thought because he was a strength trainer for the Memphis State football team, that this was supposed to make him sound like an authority. However, what he wasn't counting on was that my roommate was an assistant coach for the Kansas State Football team and a strength coach himself. When I told him, he said, "It's very do-able. When I was in high school, I benched 425. Granted, that was unnatural, but Wilt was an extraordinary athlete." (His point being, if a high school senior could bench 425, then it is very possible for a full grown man with extraordinary strength to do this).
Plus, if you go and read the transcript of Wilt's MSNBC on-line chat, you see guys who saw him warming up with just under 500 pounds! Perhaps that explains why Memphis' football team isn't a national contender, like K-State (heh heh).
When Shaquille O'Neal entered the league, Robert Parish said he was the strongest guy since Artis Gilmore. Those who played against A-Train and Wilt said Wilt was the strongest. I'm pretty sure Kareem Abdul-Jabbar mentions this in his autobiography Giant Steps, but my copy is loaned out, so I can't confirm the direct quote, but I've heard it often. Wilt is the strongest man in NBA history, bar none.
16. Why don't you call him "Wilt the Stilt?" I thought that was his nickname. It was a nickname, that according to his autobiography, he hated. That is why I refer to him by his proper nickname, "The Big Dipper." He got the nickname from his friends, who first called him "Dip" or "Dippy" because he had to dip under doorways.