Pitchin' with Pritch: Who is the GOAT?

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This year’s NBA finals are missing a familiar figure, LeBron James. James is missing playing in the finals for the first time since 2010. 

There is no doubt LeBron is probably the biggest Superstar in the NBA. With him missing, you are not hearing as much about who is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) from the announcers, and I find that somewhat pleasing. 

I am not really how sure you can slap that title on any player just because of the way things have changed in the game of basketball itself and how players train and are coached and a ton of other items that make up the DNA of great athletes. I certainly think he has to be in the mix, but the times they have been a changing. 

It would be interesting to see how he would have played and reacted when the Detroit Bad Boys were playing. The game was pretty physical in those days. It is difficult to compare to say the least. 

Today, you see players like James, Curry, Hardin and they are scoring and you hear, “Well that is Curry’s fifth game in a row he has scored 30 or more points.” Not saying that’s not a great accomplishment because it is, but Wilt Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points per game in regular season play for his entire career. He scored 30 points in 65 straight games, 50 points in seven consecutive games and scored 100 points in one game. 

In one two-game series he scored 78 points and had 43 rebounds, and the next game dropped in 58 points and picked up 42 rebounds. One season Wilt averaged 50 points per game and 25.7 rebounds. Wilt played on two NBA championship teams.

Then there was this other player named Jordan. Michael Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.2 steals. Jordan, who many believe is the GOAT, also had six NBA Championship seasons to Wilt’s two and that is a stat a lot of people will quote as the stat that separates Jordan from most other players.

There was also this guy named Bill Russell. Stat-wise, he didn’t come close to Jordan and Chamberlin as he averaged 15.1 per game, rebounded at 22.5 per game and 4.3 assists per game but, take a look at the number of NBA championship teams where Russell was a mainstay in the Celtics’ success and you will find the number 11. 

The Boston Celtics, in my opinion, had more great players around him than did Jordan and Chamberlain, and Russell wasn’t called on to do the scoring Jordan and Chamberlain did. Wilt probably had the weakest teammates of this group but still got things accomplished.

I am sure Michael Jordan and Bill Russell were good athletes and could play a lot of different sports, although Jordan did try professional baseball and found the curve ball just a little baffling. Chamberlain was an outstanding volleyball player and also a good track and field performer. 

Wilt went to college at KU for a couple years before leaving to play for the Globetrotters one season, and he was good high jumper and a shot putter.

I am sure the debate on who was the best will be alive and well years from now but I am kind of a Bill Russell fan, just because of the things he did other than scoring to make the Celtics a great team for so many years.


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