After the huge impact of The Last Dance documentary, the eternal question has come up over and over again: who was the greatest of all time?
People generally focused on Michael Jordan and LeBron James. We went back a couple of years and found a clip of Bob Knight arguing that Jordan was the greatest but Bill Russell was the most valuable which was a neat distinction.
Partly due to the passage of time, Russell and his great rival Wilt Chamberlain don't get as much support as they might.
We’ll accept Knight’s elegant distinction for Russell but what about Chamberlain? His greatest years were in the 1960s and the game obviously was not as evolved then as it is now.
However, we have argued that if you took his natural size and talent and dropped it into today’s game and gave him the advantages today’s players have with technology, science and nutrition, not to mention competition, he’d be just as dominant.
If you doubt that, take a look at this play.
Boston’s Tom Heinsohn is closely guarded by a Chamberlain teammate. He launches a hook shot - keep in mind he’s 6-7, not a particularly small guy - and then look at what Chamberlain does.
He’s about 8-10 feet away from Heinsohn when he goes up to block it and his head is well above the rim. His armpit is just about over the rim.
His hand is near the top of the backboard.
Chamberlain also had sprinter speed to go with a near 50” vertical. Anyone who thinks a guy like that couldn’t play in today’s game needs to think again. He’d just bend today’s game to his will.