Wilt Chamberlain is inextricably tied to Bill Russell. They had a league-defining rivalry that lasted a decade. Russell won the championship every year during Chamberlain’s career except for 1967 when he was part of a great 76ers team.
And then came Kareem.
Russell and Chamberlain were great rivals but also great friends. When Chamberlain died, Russell said “I feel unspeakably injured. I’ve lost a dear and exceptional friend and an important part of my life. Our relationship was intensely personal.
“We just loved playing against each other. The fierceness of the competition bonded us as friends for eternity. ”
They had some spats to be sure, but the friendship won out in the end.
It was very different with Kareem.
Chamberlain became a mentor to Kareem when he was a young teenager but they were very different sorts of men. Kareem was always more introverted and intellectual while Chamberlain was gregarious and larger than life.
They had a falling out when Kareem joined the NBA that lasted for years and became petty on both sides. Some of this stuff got very personal and ugly.
It never fully went away. This video recounts some of the ways the two trashed each other over the years and how they kept after each other.
It’s kind of sad to see how they fell out but it was also probably inevitable given the times and their very different personalities and values.