One of my favorite factoids involving NBA awards goes back to the ’50s and ’60s when the two premier legends in the history of pro basketball were dominating the game.
Wilt Chamberlain was a mythical character – a combination of Paul Bunyan, Jack in the Beanstalk and the Incredible Hulk.
Bill Russell was the ultimate winner — 11 championships in 13 seasons.
Yes, I believe Michael Jordan is the best player ever, but Wilt and Russell were bigger than life and their legend is undoubtedly enhanced by grainy black-and-white photos and prehistoric TV footage of exceeding low definition. Plus so much time has passed. Russell retired 45 years ago; Wilt 41.
Their careers intersected for 10 years from 1959-60 to 1968-69 and during that period, they defined rivalry. Wilt and Russell played a staggering 142 times against each other. You think Magic-Bird was a rivalry? Those two played each other exactly 37 times. There has never been, nor will their ever be, a rivalry as prolific as Chamberlain-Russell. They played an average of more than 14 times a season, and that’s not counting preseason games.