Measuring Up to Wilt Chamberlain May Take More Than Stats

When Luka Doncic, Dallas’ 6-foot-7 do-everything Slovenian import, outscored the Knicks for 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in an overtime win late last month, commentators noted breathlessly. That no one, not even Wilt, ever posted such a line.

Walt Frazier, the Hall of Fame guard who broadcasts Knicks games and once shared the backcourt with Garrett in southern Illinois, has an idea why.

“Most of what you see now is people running up and down, pouncing on people,” he said in a telephone interview. “Only a few teams lean on defense. They don’t double-team when someone goes. When someone came in and dropped a 40 on me, it was always, ‘Clyde’s destroyed.’ Now Doncic’s score is 60 and no one even says who was guarding him.

Frazier, 77, was echoing recent laments on the state of the game from old-school coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr. It should come as no surprise that admiration for the contemporary NBA, or lack thereof, will break down along generational lines. To those who have played with or against Chamberlain, he is the Babe Ruth of basketball, the sport’s all-time Goliath. Everyone has a story to tell, maybe on the long side.

Billy Cunningham, 79, a Hall of Famer with the Philadelphia 76ers and Chamberlain’s teammate cited on the night, Gus Johnson, a very strong forward for the Baltimore Bullets, went in with every intention of dunking on Wilt as he had done before. Was. Play.

Chamberlain didn’t just block the shot, Cunningham said: “He really caught up ball, and when Gus went to the floor, he just stood there and held it over his head.

No matter how fine the video, no matter how dark the short shorts, don’t try to convince Cunningham and company that what Chamberlain accomplished was the result of an ancient, inferior era. They’ll remind you that he averaged 45.8 minutes per game for his career and rarely sat out, unlike the more coddled modern star – which, in fairness, represents a far greater financial investment on defense.

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