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YouTube Gold: Chamberlain vs. Russell At The Rim

Still amazing after 56 years

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
BOSTON - 1968: Bill Russell #6 of the Boston Celtics defends against Wilt Chamberlain #13 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game played in 1968 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain had some epic battles and also set a standard for big men that has rarely been approached and never really surpassed.

They defined the NBA and were the first great personal rivalry to fascinate the public. Later we saw new versions of that - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar vs. Chamberlain and later Bill Walton, Michael Jordan vs. Isaiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman vs. Karl Malone and most of all, Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson.

Russell vs. Chamberlain still towers above them all. Part of the fascination is that they were both big men and that Russell kept beating the most dominant player of all time.

Of course Chamberlain got his licks in too. Take this sequence from the 1964 Finals where Chamberlain blocks two dunks in a row.

The first is by Satch Sanders, a very good player but of relatively average athleticism by NBA standards and just 6-6. It wasn’t a huge surprise that Chamberlain cleaned his clock.

The block on Russell is much more impressive.

Russell was a few inches shorter than Chamberlain but he was a great run/jump athlete and on this drive he was going up with two hands to dunk.

Look how Chamberlain goes up and how long his arm is. He strips the ball from Russell with one hand and made it look easy.