rivals and friends meet again

If Bill Russell’s legend was built through his individual and collective exploits with the Celtics, we must not forget that his rivalry with Wilt Chamberlain also contributed to the glorification of his career. Died last night at the age of 88, the most successful player in the history of the NBA therefore joins his sworn enemy, who has been missing since 1999. The chance to return to these two people linked by fate.

Of course, this was one of the first things that came to mind this Sunday when we learned the sad news of Bill Russell’s death. Left at 88, the latter went in search of the one with whom he fought his worst battles in the 1960s: Wilt Chamberlain. Died in 1999 of a heart attack, “The Stilt” was inseparable from the “Good Lord”. Together, they always made the front page of the American media, and this from the beginning of their career. If Chamberlain did not reach the NBA in Philadelphia until 1959 after an explosion with the Harlem Globetrotters for a year, Bill Russell had already soiled Boston’s Big League floors since his arrival three years earlier. . At that time, the two men knew each other well, and the desire to do better than the other dominated their relationship. But with two rings on the clock, the inside of the Celtics is ahead, which makes Wilt a little… lewd. MVP from his rookie season, the guy wants to show that he is the best player in the world. Problem: Bill has a very different opinion, and their first matchup in the Playoffs will set the tone for a rivalry that will prove to be huge. C’s 4-2 victory over the Warriors – when they were in Philly – in a series where Russell would finish in 20.7 points and 27 rebounds average against 30.5 points and 27.5 rebounds. Yes yes, that makes no sense, welcome to 60. We also leave you with a small excerpt from a joint interview between the two men, in which Wilt tells the trashtalking version of Bill Russell:

“Bill came to my house one Thanksgiving night because there was Philadelphia-Boston the next day. He slept in my bed, ate and then he went to the gym and kicked my ass. »

At that time, no one was mistaken, the headliners of the NBA were the two giants. Each of their matches is anticipated, analyzed and commented on by millions of Americans. The 1961-62 fiscal year is one of the most representative examples. Named MVP for the campaign’s conclusion 18.9 points and 23.6 rebounds average, Bill Russell also made the Celtics the first team to reach 60 wins in a season. On the other hand, Wilt Chamberlain will register 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. Even in NBA Live 07 it can’t be realistic. In the Playoffs, the confrontation was unexpected, the fans demanded it. And of course, once again, Boston won with a Chamberlain limited to 33 points on average by the Minister of Defense in the Men in Green. Ah yes yes, we would totally consider using the word “limited” in this situation. Yes Wilt, in basketball the goal is to win games, not the chain 50/25, even if it is style. The rivalry continued even in the media where the latter did not hesitate to send peaks to touch the pride of his enemy. The pinnacle of this competition within the competition? The 1964 NBA Finals — which we just recapped — is the only time the two monsters have met at this point. A series of pictures of this unequal confrontation, where one is always able to gain the upper hand over the other thanks to a superior collective, and it is not Chamberlain who will tell you the opposite.

“The 11 rings? I’ve always been bothered, because it’s a lie. Russell didn’t win 11 titles, he played on teams that won 11 titles – that’s different. He has so much help around him, it’s amazing. »

Ultimately, although they are often compared, the two players have never played at the same level. In terms of statistics, Wilt is very dominant. In 94 games against Russell, “The Stilt” would go 30/28 on average, versus 14/23 for the C’s pivot. It’s solid, but far from enough to even eclipse Bilou’s track record. Eleven league titles against two and a record of 57 wins for 37 defeats in direct confrontations. Ouch… Sure, the titles of best scorer or rebounder are cool, but bagouze remains the greatest achievement. And in this land, there has never been a photo between the two men. Throughout their careers, this desire to do better than others has been reflected in each of their actions. One person thinks in particular in this story according to Bill Russell there is only one requirement for his contract: to be paid a dollar more than Wilt. And we want to tell you thousands more anecdotes… Here! Did you know that sometimes they race cars across the United States only to end up being caught by the police? We will not see it again today. Obviously, many will tell you about the cold times, proven, that exist between the two men because their competition is intense. But when Wilt Chamberlain died of a heart attack in 1999, only respect and sincere friendship remained from all the years of rivalry, as Bill Russell stated, that at the time of the loss of his best against.

“I was very hurt. I lost a dear and wonderful friend and an important part of my life. Our relationship is very personal. Many have called our competition “the greatest rivalry in sports history”. We have no rivals. We have a really fierce competition based on friendship and respect. We just love playing against each other. The fierceness of the competition bonded us as friends forever. We love competition. Wilt loves competition. »

It’s always hard to think of Bill Russell without Wilt Chamberlain coming quickly to mind. Two born competitors, two outstanding basketball players, two outstanding personalities. Now left instead, the Celtics pivot therefore went to join his rival. No, let’s do it again. Now left instead, the pivot of the Celtics therefore went to join his… friend.

Text source: ESPN / Basketball Reference / Bleacher Report

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