Wednesday March 2 was the 49th anniversary of the late, great Wilt Chamberlain doing the unthinkable, scoring 100 points in an NBA game.
It's an occasion to celebrate the man, one of the single greatest players in the history of basketball. SLAM did its part by naming Overbrook High School, the Philadelphia school that Wilt graduated from, the second-best pro-producing high school of all time, mainly because of Chamberlain.
The man was a Rookie of the Year, a four-time MVP, 13-time All-Star, seven-time scoring champ, 11-time rebounding champ. He was a Finals MVP. He was named first-team All-NBA nine times. He led the league in minutes 8 times, minutes per game 9 times, games played 5 times. He led in the league in field-goal percentage 9 times. Hell, he even led the league in assists one year.
He averaged 50 points a game for a season and hauled in 55 boards in a single game. His career averages are astounding: 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 54 percent shooter from the field.
And yet, the hating on Wilt seems to grow every year, all because he got traded twice and "only" won two championships.
The rhetoric was spearheaded by Bill Simmons in his book, reiterated by some guy at Fox Sports, and today, my man Ed piled on the Wilt hate in a comparison with LeBron.
Ed's post really touched a nerve with me. For starters, he called Wilt's two championships fraudulent, which is just completely bullshit, but I know he's not alone in those sentiments. Everyone needs to write this down: It's impossible to be a fraudulent champion in the NBA. As in, not possible. You have to go through a long regular season, then win multiple playoff series. Not single games. Series. The better team always wins. Always. Maybe not the most talented, but the better team for sure. This isn't a one-game fluke situation. You play series. There is no debating this. None.
Second, it was said that Wilt shied away when his team needed him the most. Yeah, a guy who averaged 22.5 points, 24.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 47.2 minutes, 52 percent from the field in the playoffs for his career didn't show up when it counted. Right.
Listen, I'm fine with anyone saying that maybe Wilt didn't focus all the time 100 percent, that he got bored playing against his inferior contemporaries so he made new goals for him to pursue. Maybe he wasn't always the best team guy, and yeah, you probably would have thought he'd win more than two titles — despite going against the greatest dynasty of all time in Bill Russell's Celtics.
Fine. Do that. But to question Wilt's desire in the big moments, to say he didn't live up to his abilities, to downright bash the man because he wasn't, essentially, Bill Russell is completely unfair and complete bullshit. This nonsense has to stop. It has to.
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest players in any sport ever. Why can't we accept him for that? And more importantly, nearly 40 years after he retired, why is he even being compared to players in a completely different era and looked at as something less than he should have been?
It's infuriating. And it needs to stop. Right now.
Wilt Chamberlain, may he rest in peace, is, was and always will be one of the greatest of all time. Let's leave it at that and move on.