The stories about Wilt Chamberlain are insane. He had a 50” vertical, could bench press 500 lbs. according to Arnold Schwarzenegger and in college, in addition to basketball, competed in gymnastics (the rings) and track and field where he high jumped 6 feet, 6 inches, ran the 440 yards in 49.0 seconds, the 880 yards in 1:58.3, got 53 feet, 4 inches in the shot put, and long jumped 22 feet.
He is also one of the very few who blocked a sky hook by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, when he retired from basketball, started playing professional volleyball.
Recency bias suggests that he could not have competed in today’s game, that Shaquille O’Neal would have killed him, blah, blah, blah.
Well here’s a pretty good argument for his unparalleled level of dominance.
After Magic Johnson won one of his NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980’s, he was playing pickup at UCLA where, according to then-Bruins coach Larry Brown, he would organize the teams.
On this occasion, he picked for his teammates Bernard King, James Worthy, Byron Scott and AC Green.
He gave Chamberlain, who was there that day, four UCLA players.
You can listen to Brown tell the story here but just bear in mind that Chamberlain had been retired nearly a decade and was 43 years old and he literally shut Magic’s end of the court down. As in he blocked everything.
Every. Single. Shot.
Now ask yourself if you think Shaquille O’ Neal, or anyone else, could have done that, at any point in their career.