Here is a quick discussion by the only radio guy to give him any credit (that I have heard).
Teams win championships
In other words give me a break when it comes to rings. That argument is so easy to prove false that I can't believe it gets so much discussion.
Wilt vs Russell
This is the equivalent of the modern NBA with the Warriors after KD was added, but then adding a couple more hall of famers to the team. Actually, the Warriors have maybe 4 Hall of Famers, while the stacked Celtics teams sometimes had a Hall of Famer at every position.
Secondly, and just as important, Russell had Red Auerbach as a coach. It just wasn’t a fair fight.
When Wilt, in his prime, was fortunate to play for Philadelphia with two other hall of famers (Bill Cunningham and Hal Greer), they set an NBA record with 68 wins and only 13 losses. They also defeated the Celtics and won the NBA title.
Lets look at individual stats
Even if you claim that Russell had more help (which is a fact), you can’t explain why Russell shot 44 percent from the floor over his career. That is an individual stat and another one where it is embarrassing compared to Wilt. Wilt shot 54 percent over his career and when you think about how players would jump all over him every time he got the ball, it is amazing that he once shot 68 percent from the floor. Amazingly, he shot nearly 73 percent from the floor his final season and also lead the league in rebounds.
While Wilt’s scoring, efficiency and rebounding records are mind blowing, he even lead the league in assists one season when people said he was selfish. The only center to ever do so.
Modern NBA will give you a clue
In fact, there was a year when Russell won a championship and was the 6th leading scorer on his team. He was typically 3rd leading scorer, at best. Giving him all the credit is like giving Dennis Rodman or Horace Grant all the credit for the Bulls wins instead of MJ.
The idea that he individually outperformed Wilt is a myth.
- Free throws - They made it illegal to cross the free throw line on the shot because Wilt would essentially dunk the ball from there.
- Lobbing over the backboard on an inbounds pass. Kansas would run their out of bounds plays and lob the ball over the backboard and Wilt would catch and dunk it.
- Offensive goal tending.
- Widening of the lane. It went from 12 to 16 feet
He wasn’t relatable
I remember watching Bird, Magic, Jordan, Dr J, and even Kareem. When Bird and Magic started to be plagued with injuries a vacuum was created for a media star to stop the NBA from collapsing after the guys that saved it were sailing into new phases over their lives. The one guy that could do that was MJ. I remember a time when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing MJ’s Hollywood smile. He was a media darling. I loved watching him play, as well. Of course, if you turned on basketball, there was a very high chance that the Bulls would be on.
Wilt never had this advantage. People would hear about his feats, but didn’t typically see them. It was a different era before MJ took the NBA to new commercial/corporate heights. In fact, if you look at his shoe sells, the hype continues and grows. You would think he was also super human, but most of us have actually seen him play. He wasn't invincible. The Celtics and Pistons proved that. Once he had a crew of the best players, it became inevitable that he would win titles. Think about those LeBron James teams in Cleveland that went from title contender to bottom dweller the year he left. Not so when MJ left to play baseball. His team went from 57 wins to 55 wins. Broadcasters that don't want to give the rest of the team credit have to come to terms with this fact that they were nearly as good with Pete Myers in the line up. Can you imagine if an all-star replaced Jordan that year rather that Myers?
To Wrap Up
One other thing I have heard is that a center needs a good guard and that ball handlers don’t need that. How many boards did MJ average over his career (6)? Without others doing the rebounding, he wouldn’t have won as many games or got nearly as many shots. There is a reason they needed Rodman. With Wilt, he could do it himself. One season he averaged 27 boards a game. That would lead to a lot of scoring without anyone passing him the ball. The argument that centers need teammates holds true for every individual player at every position. It is a team sport!
So some would ask about my all time starting 5. Here it is for the moment:
If I had to start a team with one of them, it would be Wilt.