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Old 02-27-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
Mrofir
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Default Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

There is a certain perception that athletes are constantly improving and that older generation players could not compete with today's players. It is possible there is some truth to this, but we can use overlapping careers of different players who stuck around a long time to get a sense of how eras compare. Example:

Wilt played from 1959-1973 - He played against Bill Russell as well as some very important matchups with Kareem Abdul Jabar (who then played until 1988)

KAJ played against Larry Bird and a little later Michael Jordan. Is there evidence to show KAJ seemed bewildered by MJs new age abilities? Michael Jordan played against Kobe, AI, Dirk, KG, Shaq, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crA7Rui13hI (not serious footage obviously, but just as an example of how players in diff generations are not of different genetic composition)

It's not hard to see how a player like Wilt, in today's league that is lacking talent at the C position, could probably put up insane numbers again. Maybe click it down to 35-17 instead of 50-25, but I think the idea that players are on a different level today is a myth.

Wondering if anyone has memories or footage of a cross generational matchup that is interesting. I think it's particularly interesting with the center position, since there really have been so few truly great big men across the years and it is so obvious when one appears.
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Old 02-27-2013, 04:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

There's no reason whatsoever for players of X generation to be on a different level compared to the players of X-1, X-2... generations. Technology, knowledge and preparation change, not the quality of human beings. Both Wilt and Jordan were genetically profoundly gifted and would thrive regardless of when they lived.
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Old 02-27-2013, 04:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrofir
There is a certain perception that athletes are constantly improving and that older generation players could not compete with today's players. It is possible there is some truth to this, but we can use overlapping careers of different players who stuck around a long time to get a sense of how eras compare. Example:

Wilt played from 1959-1973 - He played against Bill Russell as well as some very important matchups with Kareem Abdul Jabar (who then played until 1988)

KAJ played against Larry Bird and a little later Michael Jordan. Is there evidence to show KAJ seemed bewildered by MJs new age abilities? Michael Jordan played against Kobe, AI, Dirk, KG, Shaq, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crA7Rui13hI (not serious footage obviously, but just as an example of how players in diff generations are not of different genetic composition)

It's not hard to see how a player like Wilt, in today's league that is lacking talent at the C position, could probably put up insane numbers again. Maybe click it down to 35-17 instead of 50-25, but I think the idea that players are on a different level today is a myth.

Wondering if anyone has memories or footage of a cross generational matchup that is interesting. I think it's particularly interesting with the center position, since there really have been so few truly great big men across the years and it is so obvious when one appears.

Check out Jlauber post below. He did a great job with that concept.
http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/sho...1&postcount=69
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Old 02-27-2013, 06:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Greatness is greatness in any era.

I find it silly when people feel the need to trash players of a past era in order for the players of their own era to look better.
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pointguard
Check out Jlauber post below. He did a great job with that concept.
http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/sho...1&postcount=69


made this thread thinking probably nobody would respond, and hoping in the best case scenario I'd get a link or something along these lines. Thanks! I think there is an interesting argument to be made that among big men, the golden era of the nba was the approximately 65-80..
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pointguard
Check out Jlauber post below. He did a great job with that concept.
http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/sho...1&postcount=69
He also posted this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
"not to diminish guys like Russell and West, two great defenders...but defense back then was nowhere near as good as it is today."
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
"I know that this is getting away from the original post some, but most people tend to diminish Wilt's accomplishments because he was so much bigger, taller, stronger, and more athletic than his opposing centers. And it is true, that when Wilt was scoring 50 ppg, it was Russell at 6-9 and Bellamy at 6-11, and the rest were pretty much 6-8 or 6-9 "stiffs."
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
“Wilt's competition in that 61-62 season was not stellar. Basically only Russell and Bellamy were anywhere near his ability...and neither could approach him in terms of statistical domination.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
“I know both you and I will get some flak from "old-timers" about how great some of them were . . . , but realistically, todays basketball players, although many lacking in fundamental skills, are far superior to the players of the 60's.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
“the athletes are better today, no question”
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
“My personal opinion on athletics today is that, yes, today's athletes are generally bigger, stronger, faster, better trained, and better fed than those of 20 years ago or more.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
“The players of today are generally, and probably considerably, bigger, stronger, faster than previous eras (obviously the further back you go, the bigger the differences.)”
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
“There is no doubt in my mind that Wilt would be an all-star player today. I certainly wouldn't expect him to score 50 ppg, or grab 27 rpg...but perhaps 30 and 18, in his prime, would have been possible...which would place him above all the centers of today. I think someone on this forum said, or read something to the effect, that Wilt was a cross between Garnett and Shaq. That would be worth about $40 mil a year today.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlauber
How many other basketball players could you say that about? Perhaps Russell would be another Ben Wallace, albeit a better passer...but that is not saying much. Sure, West, Robertson, and maybe a handful of others would be good players today, but all-stars?”
http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/sho...7&postcount=53
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deuce Bigalow
He also posted this:

http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/showpost.php?p=5029077&postcount=53[/url]
In the link I referenced above, my response actually addresses all of that. He made the bridge and saw things differently. At his age he was/is still growing. Too many people stick to the ideas they had when they were five years old.

Mrofir you can read the whole thread below.
http://www.insidehoops.com/forum/sho...d.php?t=272328
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Old 02-27-2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pointguard
He made the bridge and saw things differently. At his age he was/is still growing. Too many people stick to the ideas they had when they were five years old.

Those quotes that ThaRegul8r posted came back from 2005, I believe. If he really is 57 years old now, he was only 48-49 years old back then.

Bit late in the game to see things differently when your 50+ years old, but hey, if it fits ever you think believe in... by all means.

What exactly does someone see differently from events 40+ years later... from when it actually happened ?
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Old 02-27-2013, 09:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legends66NBA7
Those quotes that ThaRegul8r posted came back from 2005, I believe. If he really is 57 years old now, he was only 48-49 years old back then.

Bit late in the game to see things differently when your 50+ years old, but hey, if it fits ever you think believe in... by all means.

What exactly does someone see differently from events 40+ years later... from when it actually happened ?

Your "mental eye" or your memory, or whatever you would like to call it, gets coloured by time, by events that came after, by the conversations and fun times you have with friends, the knowledge, the tragedies....... they can change - they DO change - how you view the past, your own past, everything really.
Also seeing things as they happen can look very different from how you view the same thing a few years later; and if you spend a lot of time studying or researching, as jlauber did 60s hoops for example......... you can undergo a very profound change of view. Sorry to get all philosophical but you brought it up lol


People didn't take Wilt for granted, exactly. Everyone was astounded by the things he could do at the time. But in a way we did take him for granted because you just thought, you know, Bob Lanier or Kareem or Darnell Hillman Doctor Dunk.... was going to wrestle all of those records away. And then as time passed, Kareem got the scoring record, and you know Stockton or someone chipped away some piddly record or other.... but as the years went by like a flood, why to my amazement there stands Wilt Chamberlain, still untouched and, apparently, untouchable. In all his glory!

I mean there was no name for triple double or quadruple double back then, but everyone just knew when Chamberlain had games with stat lines like 20+points, 20+ rebounds, & 12 assists with 10 or 12 blocks that he was doing things that had never been done before. You know, we didn't think in terms of triple double but you knew darn well that he was beyond anything ever seen before. He was, truly, amazing.

Well you see, when the triple double stat came along all those years later, and people starting gleaning through the record books, they started seeing statistical evidence of what Wilt was doing. I mean you know... NINE TRIPLE DOUBLES IN A ROW. THIRTY FIVE FIELD GOALS IN A ROW WITHOUT A MISS.
QUADRUPLE DOUBLES IN PLAYOFF GAMES AGAINST BILL RUSSELL.

So yeah, your view of the past changes because you learn things later that you didn't know at the time. All we knew in those years was Wilt was just.... beyond. We had no way of knowing that a half century later no one would ever come along to contest what he achieved.
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Old 02-28-2013, 01:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by La Frescobaldi
Your "mental eye" or your memory, or whatever you would like to call it, gets coloured by time, by events that came after, by the conversations and fun times you have with friends, the knowledge, the tragedies....... they can change - they DO change - how you view the past, your own past, everything really.
Also seeing things as they happen can look very different from how you view the same thing a few years later; and if you spend a lot of time studying or researching, as jlauber did 60s hoops for example......... you can undergo a very profound change of view. Sorry to get all philosophical but you brought it up lol

People didn't take Wilt for granted, exactly. Everyone was astounded by the things he could do at the time. But in a way we did take him for granted because you just thought, you know, Bob Lanier or Kareem or Darnell Hillman Doctor Dunk.... was going to wrestle all of those records away. And then as time passed, Kareem got the scoring record, and you know Stockton or someone chipped away some piddly record or other.... but as the years went by like a flood, why to my amazement there stands Wilt Chamberlain, still untouched and, apparently, untouchable. In all his glory!

I mean there was no name for triple double or quadruple double back then, but everyone just knew when Chamberlain had games with stat lines like 20+points, 20+ rebounds, & 12 assists with 10 or 12 blocks that he was doing things that had never been done before. You know, we didn't think in terms of triple double but you knew darn well that he was beyond anything ever seen before. He was, truly, amazing.

Well you see, when the triple double stat came along all those years later, and people starting gleaning through the record books, they started seeing statistical evidence of what Wilt was doing. I mean you know... NINE TRIPLE DOUBLES IN A ROW. THIRTY FIVE FIELD GOALS IN A ROW WITHOUT A MISS.
QUADRUPLE DOUBLES IN PLAYOFF GAMES AGAINST BILL RUSSELL.

So yeah, your view of the past changes because you learn things later that you didn't know at the time. All we knew in those years was Wilt was just.... beyond. We had no way of knowing that a half century later no one would ever come along to contest what he achieved.

Great Post.
I remember when I heard that Boston managed to get Parrish and McHale after some mysterious manipulations of getting Bird. I was young but I knew that Red Aurabach was a slickster and he pulled off some crazy magic. So when I heard of Russell's 11 rings I didn't think much of it cause I figured Red did the same things then. When a little older you start hearing three peat as some remarkable feat. Prime dominant Shaq and super stud Kobe couldn't pull off a four peat. Then you read that Russell pulled off an 8 peat. When younger you don't properly understand concepts like pressure, excellence and consistency.

So you are so right on how things are coined. Back then they had 7 games in 10 nights and traveling time could take 30 hours four or five times a season. Now 4 games in 5 nights is a big deal and travel is no more than 10 hours. When younger you don't pay attention to a guy playing 48 minutes while having the activity of Lebron in the playoffs, for 80 games is a big ordeal. When older you understand attrition.

If you grow up watching Jordan and Kobe, you might think the eye of the Tiger is a given. At times you think bigmen will always get better - they don't. That one day there would be a league where only 4 or 5 players have a deep post game and 7 footers would all prefer to be shooters??? You realize what not to take for granted. Even as you get older, Wilt's tenacity to score and rebound like that is crazy. Wilt's timing is appreciated better. Jordan's hunger is appreciated more. Lebron's balance both physically and mentally is more a marvel to a 40 year old than a 25 year old.

All this to say to Legends66NBA7, Dwight Howard is dominant now and he's fully capable of getting more accolades than Shaq. He definitely isn't a Wilt. You learn that the improvement of centers was probably an illusion. Or as the "bridge argument" goes, young active, energetic Kareem wasn't the slow methodical guy that could outplay Hakeem and Ewing. When you get older you see things in a broader context. When I coach I see things about human behavior and even a dimension of the game not seen before.

Last edited by Pointguard : 02-28-2013 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

I always wanted to make a thread like this because it's something that I often think about. So I'm glad that I keep seeing people who try to view things these way.


One that comes into mind I think from Reggie Miller's book. When he was a Rookie he might have said something to Bird, and Bird said something like, "Look here rookie. I'm the best basketball player in the world, in the whole ****ing world..." just an awesome rant by bird, and you know what? Bird was right. He was much better than Reggie Miller, and Reggie Miller played in the league and produced as an old man in the league during Kobe's prime. (10 ppg during his rookie year and 14.8 as a 39 year old in 2004-2005.)


So even though I might not have really seen Bird play, I recognize that the tendencies for some is to judge him because his style looked less athletic than most players, which forces me to look at the things that made him better than the rest. And looking at his game, he was great.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:30 AM   #12
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrofir
There is a certain perception that athletes are constantly improving and that older generation players could not compete with today's players. It is possible there is some truth to this, but we can use overlapping careers of different players who stuck around a long time to get a sense of how eras compare. Example:

Wilt played from 1959-1973 - He played against Bill Russell as well as some very important matchups with Kareem Abdul Jabar (who then played until 1988)

KAJ played against Larry Bird and a little later Michael Jordan. Is there evidence to show KAJ seemed bewildered by MJs new age abilities? Michael Jordan played against Kobe, AI, Dirk, KG, Shaq, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crA7Rui13hI (not serious footage obviously, but just as an example of how players in diff generations are not of different genetic composition)

It's not hard to see how a player like Wilt, in today's league that is lacking talent at the C position, could probably put up insane numbers again. Maybe click it down to 35-17 instead of 50-25, but I think the idea that players are on a different level today is a myth.

Wondering if anyone has memories or footage of a cross generational matchup that is interesting. I think it's particularly interesting with the center position, since there really have been so few truly great big men across the years and it is so obvious when one appears.
The league is different. To put a player from the 60s to today isn't easy. I have no doubt that Wilt would still be a fine player but to average 35/17? Very doubtful.

There's an evolution in defense. Today's teams are better and smarter with it. The overall talent level in NBA athletes has also increased as NBA became much more lucrative. It's also not a guarantee that the past players will be able to play under today's much more evolved sets and plays quickly. Not to call them stupid, but not everybody is able to understand the more complex basketball system easily. Javale Mcgee is one of those athletes. There's another matter of Wilt's awful awful free throw. Do we assume he'd better his FT in this era or not? If not then teams will take advantage of it and Wilt won't play at the end of games.
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:18 PM   #13
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pointguard
Great Post.
I remember when I heard that Boston managed to get Parrish and McHale after some mysterious manipulations of getting Bird. I was young but I knew that Red Aurabach was a slickster and he pulled off some crazy magic. So when I heard of Russell's 11 rings I didn't think much of it cause I figured Red did the same things then. When a little older you start hearing three peat as some remarkable feat. Prime dominant Shaq and super stud Kobe couldn't pull off a four peat. Then you read that Russell pulled off an 8 peat. When younger you don't properly understand concepts like pressure, excellence and consistency.

So you are so right on how things are coined. Back then they had 7 games in 10 nights and traveling time could take 30 hours four or five times a season. Now 4 games in 5 nights is a big deal and travel is no more than 10 hours. When younger you don't pay attention to a guy playing 48 minutes while having the activity of Lebron in the playoffs, for 80 games is a big ordeal. When older you understand attrition.

If you grow up watching Jordan and Kobe, you might think the eye of the Tiger is a given. At times you think bigmen will always get better - they don't. That one day there would be a league where only 4 or 5 players have a deep post game and 7 footers would all prefer to be shooters??? You realize what not to take for granted. Even as you get older, Wilt's tenacity to score and rebound like that is crazy. Wilt's timing is appreciated better. Jordan's hunger is appreciated more. Lebron's balance both physically and mentally is more a marvel to a 40 year old than a 25 year old.

All this to say to Legends66NBA7, Dwight Howard is dominant now and he's fully capable of getting more accolades than Shaq. He definitely isn't a Wilt. You learn that the improvement of centers was probably an illusion. Or as the "bridge argument" goes, young active, energetic Kareem wasn't the slow methodical guy that could outplay Hakeem and Ewing. When you get older you see things in a broader context. When I coach I see things about human behavior and even a dimension of the game not seen before.

So right on how the perspective change as you get older and can relate to not being the same physically as you were when younger. It's harder to understand when not having had experienced it.
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:29 PM   #14
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamgine
The league is different.
Yep.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamgine
To put a player from the 60s to today isn't easy. I have no doubt that Wilt would still be a fine player but to average 35/17? Very doubtful.
True, it's difficult to project numbers. However, 35/17 from a guy who once averaged 50/25 does not seem "Very doubtful." - it actually seems about right.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamgine
There's an evolution in defense.
No... there's been rule modifications.
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamgine
Today's teams are better and smarter with it. The overall talent level in NBA athletes has also increased as NBA became much more lucrative. It's also not a guarantee that the past players will be able to play under today's much more evolved sets and plays quickly. Not to call them stupid, but not everybody is able to understand the more complex basketball system easily. Javale Mcgee is one of those athletes. There's another matter of Wilt's awful awful free throw. Do we assume he'd better his FT in this era or not? If not then teams will take advantage of it and Wilt won't play at the end of games.
So you are straight-faced trying to say the game is played more cerebrally now than in the 60's and that's a reason we should question a 60's players ability to play the game today?

Last edited by CavaliersFTW : 02-28-2013 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:37 PM   #15
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Default Re: Ways to compare across eras - MJ vs Wilt

Quote:
Originally Posted by CavaliersFTW
Yep.

True, it's difficult to project numbers. However, 35/17 from a guy who once averaged 50/25 does not seem "Very doubtful." - it actually seems about right.

No... there's been rule modifications.

So you are straight-faced trying to say the game is played more cerebrally now than in the 60's and that's a reason we should question a 60's players ability to play the game today?

I think his rebounds would be higher (17 might be his career average), that's the easiest part of his game to project since it was a constant throughout his career. Scoring is more of a reflection of role, so it would depend on his team's system/his mindset.

BTW, has anyone broken down Wilt's numbers by coach? In 'Wilt', written shortly after he retired (I think it was in 1973), he noted McGuire, Hannum, Sharman as the good coaches for whom he'd played. I wonder what the splits are.
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