Class Warfare Blog

November 25, 2019

No Respect for Goliath

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 10:11 am
Tags: , ,

I was watching an NBA game the other day, one involving the Dallas Mavericks, specifically so I could watch their new star, 20-year old Luka Dončić from Slovenia. I was not disappointed. He is not only really, really good but he is a likable young man also.

He doesn’t, however bear any responsibility for the comments of those broadcasting the game. They used visuals to show that only three players had averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds in their first seasons. None of the three was Wilt Chamberlain.

For the record—in Wilt’s Rookie season, 1959-60 he averaged 37.6 points per game and 27 rebounds per game. To show that was not a fluke Wilt averaged 38.4 points and 27.2 rebounds per game the next season and then in 1961-62 he averaged 50.4 points and grabbed 25.7 rebounds per game. Many of these are still all-time records, as is the 55 rebounds he grabbed in one game. (Bill Russell claims he had the best seat in the house to observe this performance, so this wasn’t some stat put up against a lame opponent.) Now a great many people will say that that was a different era, which is was, but along with the positive attributes there were negatives. In that incredible 1961-62 season it wasn’t as if they weren’t trying to stop Wilt—he lead the league in free throws shot. As just one example consider this quote “Half the fouls against him were hard fouls … he took the most brutal pounding of any player ever.” That was from Boston Celtic Tom Heinsohn, one of Wilt’s most fierce competitors, with regard to an NBA Finals series.

So, why the disrespect? Chamberlain said himself, that “no one roots for Goliath” even though he was not the largest player in the league by any measure (but was most likely the strongest ever to play).

Dončić is a 6´ 7ʺ guard-forward and his numbers are quite extraordinary, but commentators should know better than to claim that only three people had better numbers for some stretch without mentioning Wilt.

Nobody had better numbers than Wilt, except for free throw percentage. Wilt even led the league in assists one year. Wilt had 30.1 points per game, 22.9 rebounds per game and played 45.8 minutes (out of 48) per game for his entire 15-year career! No other player could come close to his endurance, nor could they even try out of fear of breaking down (load management my ass).

If you are going to quote US professional basketball statistics, always, always, always start with the most prolific player in NBA history. Have some respect.

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