What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Honestly, this rant has been stuck in my throat for 12 years; ever since ESPN came out with that silly list of Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century. A list that includes horses should be all you need to know about its credibility. But there was just too much “power of present perspective” that allowed people to miss what a mistake it was naming Michael Jordan at the top of that list.
It was completely ridiculous to put Jordan ahead of Babe Ruth. Ruth revolutionized baseball; before Ruth set the career home run mark at 714, it was held by a guy named Roger Connor who had 138…and most of those were of the inside-the-park variety. Then there was the small matter of the fact that not only did Ruth’s fame build Yankee Stadium, it literally built professional sports in this country. It’s no accident that all that pro sports took off in America after everybody saw what attraction a major sports star could be. Nobody ever talks about the “house Jordan built” and he didn’t have nearly the impact on his own sport; Jordan didn’t revolutionize anything, he simply improved on what Elgin Baylor and Julius Erving had already done.
Don’t even get me started on how asinine it was to put Jordan in front of Muhammad Ali. Did we forget about Ali being called the “Greatest of All Time?”
Again, the problem stems from too many voters under the age of thirty who hadn’t seen anybody on the list whose careers were before 1980. Then it dawned on me; the key to exposing this fraud was to note that Jordan isn’t even the greatest basketball player of all-time. The fact that he was the only basketball player in the top ten was the first clue; it made me look for where Wilt Chamberlain was on the list. It made me realize that not only Chamberlain should be in the top ten, but that there was no way Jordan should be in front of him.
Chamberlain was capable of scoring and rebounding at will, despite the double and triple-teams and constant fouling tactics that opposing teams used to try to shut him down. He dominated the game as few players in any sport ever have; when Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson was asked whether Chamberlain was the best ever he said “the books don’t lie.” Just run through the usually accepted criteria.
Many Jordan supporter hang their hats on the fact he won 6 NBA championships. First of all, I reject team accomplishments as a measure of individual greatness, but it is one area where NBA fans believe there has to be a ring for there to be greatness. While Jordan has six and Chamberlain had two, it still leaves MJ just a bit over the halfway mark to Bill Russell’s eleven NBA Championships.
Wilt retired as the all-time in career points with 31,419, which was later surpassed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and Michael Jordan. Jordan was never the all-time leading scorer. While Jordan and Chamberlain both led the league in scoring for seven consecutive years, Chamberlain was also the only NBA player to score 4,000 points in a season and score over 3,000 on two other occasions. The closest Jordan ever got to that mark was 3,041 in 1986-87, and by then he had the advantage of the three-point shot.
The record books literally drip with Chamberlain’s accomplishments. Some of them are simply mind-boggling, like the 48.5 minutes per game he averaged in 1961-62. Some of his scoring numbers are hard to believe, such as his mark of 14 with 40+ points, 14; 65 consecutive games with 30+ points, or his field goal percentage of .727 in 1972-73.
Seriously, Wilt’s name appears so often in the NBA record books that if you are ever in doubt as to who holds a particular record, just say “Chamberlain” and the odds are with you. What is really exceptional is so many of these records find the second-place guy miles behind Wilt. But of all the records noted here, there are nine which need to be on any list of unbreakable records in sports; nobody is going to touch these anytime soon, and they still stand nearly four decades after Chamberlain’s retirement.
Chamberlain owns 71 NBA records; he has sole possession of 62 of them. Many will fall to others; he’s already been passed by three other career scorers. But look at that list and try to tell me how a guy who set nine unbreakable records isn’t the greatest basketball player of all time.
– Dubsism is a proud member of the Sports Blog Movement