29.07.2022 - A Rivalry That Changed, Improved, And Redefined The NBA. If you are not watching the Summer League this year then you are missing out.The Summer League is the perfect series to watch to help you get over the last season ending and build up the excitement for the NBA returning in the fall.
You can find the best odds and best sports betting lines for the next season here.
The Summer Leagues gives teams a chance to test out new formations and their newly drafted players. And we are already starting to see a few possible rivalries emerging.
In honor of that, today we are going to be looking at the original NBA rivalry - Bill Russell vs Wilt Chamberlain. We will be looking at both players' careers, what started the rivalry, and how it affected their performances.
Boston Celtics - 1956-1969
Bill Russel holds the record for most NBA Final Championship wins.
Russel was the playmaker of the incredible Boston Celtics team in the 50s and 60s. He played in the NBA for 13 years and won the title 11 times (1957, 1959–1966, 1968, 1969). He was drafted by the Celtics in 1956 and played with them until he retired in 1969.
He also won a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics with Team USA.
In the Winter of 1956, many of Boston's key players were away on military service. This meant that there was a space open for Russell went he returned from his international duties.
He made his debut that December and played a key part in the team winning the NBA Finals that year. He was, however, not named Rookie of the Year. That honor went to another Celtics player.
The team made it to the Eastern Division finals in the playoffs in the 1957-58 season, they lost here. This would be one of only two years in his career that he would not win the Championship ring. The second year was in 1967 when they would be knocked out at the Eastern Division Finals again.
Bill Russel is a man that changed basketball.
In 1967, he became the player-coach of the Celtics. By taking this job, he became the first black head coach in the history of the NBA. This put the NBA much further ahead than the other big American sports at the time.
Russel had a tough relationship with the Boston fans because of his race, even after he took over as head coach he was still abused.
It was not until after Russell had retired from the sport that he got full recognition from the Boston fans.
1959–1965 - Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors
1965–1968 - Philadelphia 76ers
1968–1973 - Los Angeles Lakers
Wilt Chamberlain was a two-time NBA Champion who passed away in 1999 at the age of 63.
During his career, Wilt was known as "Goliath" because he was 7"1 tall. Which made him one of the tallest players in the NBA at the time.
Chamberlain started his career with the Harlem Globetrotters. He played with them until he was old enough to enter the NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959 and was named the MVP that year as well as the Rookie of the Year. Chamberlain was the first person to ever win both awards in the same year, and it has only been done once since - by Wes Unseld.
Chamberlain won two NBA Finals championships - once in 1967 with the 76ers and once with the Lakers in 1972. He was also named the MVP of the regular season three years in a row between 1966 and 1968.
Throughout his career, Chamberlain was called up to the All-Stars 13 times (1960–1969, 1971–1973) and he was named the All-Stars MVP in the 1960 game.
Chamberlain retired in 1973. When he retired all of the clubs that he played for retired his number 13 shirt.
When they started their careers, Chamberlain and Russel were close friends. However, after Russell insulted Chamberlain in an interview the two didn't speak for twenty years.
However, when Russel apologized the pair made up and remained very close friends until Chamberlain died in 1999. When he spoke at Chamberlain's funeral, Russel said that were not rivals, instead, they were eternal friends that had an intense competition between them. He said before they fell out they would never talk about basketball - they talked about life and electric trains.
When the two played each other in the regular season, Russel and the Celtics lead 57–37, and they lead 29-20 in the playoffs.
Who Was Better?
It feels a little sacrilegious to ask this question and we think most basketball fans will agree with us on that.
These two men were the best players of their era and some of the best players of all time. The had a huge impact on the NBA and definitely improved it for the better.
If we look at the statistics, then there is no doubt that Russel very definitely had the most successful career. He won 11 NBA championships, he was a player-coach, he went to more All-Stars games, and he played for longer.