Originally Posted by jlip
Most informed posts that I have read on this subject suggest that Wilt would obviously have won more titles, (i.e. 4-7) but his style of play and intangibles would not have meshed as well with the remaining Celtics as Russell's did preventing them from winning 11 titles as they did. Also, based upon research and Wilt's own comments I somewhat doubt if players such as K.C. Jones and Frank Ramsey would have made the Hall of Fame given that they were never even all stars during their careers. This is what Wilt had to say in an interview about this very question:
[i]"What I respected about Bill, more than anything else, was that he basically played me in a manner that I think the game of basketball should be played. He knew he couldn't out physical me and he never tried. He would try to steal the ball, he would use his quickness, he would use his agility, he would use the things that he had going for him to play wonderfully strong defense with the help from his team. No other player ever played me that way. That team wasn't so great until he got there. Once he got there, he was the piece that they were looking for. A lot of people have said to me, "Wilt, what if you had that team? Boy, you would never have lost!" Not true. If I was on their team, I would be taking away from some of what the other guys were doing. Everybody had a role on that team. (Tom) Heinsohn wouldn't be getting the same number of shots, nor would (Bill) Sharman, nor would (Bob) Cousy because I'd be shooting the ball a whole lot more. Bill Russell gave them just what they needed. I would've given them a little bit more in certain things, which I think would have made the team not as good. I've always believed that he made that team exactly what it was supposed to be. And you couldn't get any better."[/
While I agree somewhat with what Chamberlain said, it must also be added that Russell also stated that Wilt could have played his (Russell's) role better, than he (Russell) could have played Wilt's.
And let's be honest here. Russell and Wilt played together in the NBA in the entire decade of the 60's, covering ten years. Russell CLEARLY had a HUGE edge in rosters in at least SIX of them. In the last four, they were all very close (and Russell STILL had an edge in HOFers in ALL four of those seasons.) And I have documented the incredible circumstances which allowed Russell's TEAM's to beat Wilt's TEAM's in three of those four years. The reality was, that in only TWO seasons, in those ten years, did Wilt REALLY have an edge in surrounding talent. And in one of those, in their H2H playoff series, Wilt was without one of his HOF teammates the entire series, and then had two more of his starting players get injured in game five (in a series in which his team was up 3-1)...AND, Chamberlain himself was fighting SEVERAL injuries in that series, and was noticeably limping in the last four games. Despite ALL of that, Wilt's TEAM lost a game seven by FOUR points. Of course, in the other season in which Wilt had an edge in talent (the year before the series I just mentioned BTW), he and his TEAM just CRUSHED Russell and the Celtics, 4-1 (and were four points away from SWEEPING Boston in game four.)
John Wooden commented that had Wilt had Russell's rosters in his career, that he (Wilt) would probably have won as many rings. Leonard Koppett a brilliant sports writer and noted sports historian carried that argument even further, claiming that Wilt played with the EXACT same circumstances that Russell enjoyed in his career, that Wilt likely would have gone 13-0 (instead of 11-2.)
Obviously we will never know for sure, but we do know that Chamberlain carried two putrid rosters to game sevens against Russell's Celtics and at the peak of the Dynasty...and lost them by 2 and 1 point. He also lost two more game seven's (one of them with HALF of his KEY players either missing the series, or playing injured), and lost those games by 4 and 2 points.
In any case, the evidence is overwhelming that had Wilt swapped rosters in those ten seasons, that he most certainly would have won SIX rings (in the first six years of his career), and perhaps Russell would have played on six LOSING teams in those years. The other four years would be up for debate, but given all of the injuries and horrible luck that Wilt was saddled with in three of those four seasons, I suspect that Wilt, with Russell's much deeper rosters, would have won another couple of rings. That would mean that Chamberlain could possibly have won EIGHT rings in those ten seasons. Throw in his ring in '72, and that would be NINE. And, Wilt did not have the good fortune to play in the NBA in Russell's first three seasons, either. Put Wilt on those Celtic teams, and with Russell not playing in the league at the time (like Wilt) and he likely would have won another 2-3.
In Russell's first six seasons, he had these HUGE edges in HOFers vs. Wilt's teams (and these numbers include Russell and Wilt themselves.)
'60 Russell had an 8-3 edge
'61 Russell had an 8-3 edge
'62 Russell had a 7-3 edge (and Wilt still carried that team to a game seven, two point loss.)
'63 Russell had a 9-1 edge (yikes!...and Wilt oustcored Russell in their NINE H2H games by a 38-14 margin per game.)
'64 Russell had an 8-2 edge (and Wilt's HOF teammates was rookie Nate Thurmond, who played part-time, out of position, and shot .395)
'65 Russell had a 6-2 edge (and Wilt took his 40-40 Sixers to a game seven, ONE-POINT loss against Russell's 62-18 Celtics.)
Those were the first six seasons. And then from that point on, Russell STILL had more HOF teammates EVERY year.)
'66 Russell had a 5-3 edge
'67 Russell had a 7-3 edge (and Wilt and his teammates just BURIED Russell and the Celtics that season, 4-1.)
'68 Russell had a 6-3 edge (and Wilt was without one of his HOF teammates the entire series...and two of his starters were injured in game five...and they still were able to lose a game seven by four points.)
'69 Russell had a 5-3 edge (and Wilt's COACH kept Wilt on the bench in the last few minutes of a game seven, in which Wilt's TEAM lost by TWO points.)
Now, you can argue that not all of Russell's "HOF" teammates were truly deserving, but neither was one of Wilt's (Tom Gola, whose career numbers were not only a complete joke...but he was perhaps the worst post-season shooter in his entire NBA career.) In any case, even if some of Russell's teammates were not HOFers, they were certainly very good players. AND, he also enjoyed much deeper benches as well.
IMO, the WORST case scenario would have been SEVEN rings for Wilt in those ten years. Now, give Wilt those seven, but another one in '72, and he would have had EIGHT rings. The real question would then have been...who was the game's SECOND greatest player of all-time.