Michael Jordan: I Wanna Be Like Wilt Chamberlain (not "Like Mike")

Richard JTContributor IIIAugust 29, 2010

Yes, I wanna (We all should) be like him, the man who claimed to bedded 20.000 womens, the man who holds multiple unbreakable NBA record, the man who was nice, if not the nicest player of all time in the history of NBA.

Unfortunately, I've seen so many so called basketball fans these days don't give him credit he deserves, make no mistake, knowing what kind of basketball fans these days are (thanks to ESPN) it doesn't surprise me, at all.

I respect Jordan's skills and achievements and i consider him as one of the greatest (but NOT the Greatest) but i just dont like him. He was an OVERHYPED, pampered marketing tool used by David $tern and corporate America. 

Deconstructing Jordan:


"If [sports stars] can sell these wares with the power of their personas, they also can sell civic responsibility with the power of their personas."
--- Jesse Jackson

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Jordan's little gambling addiction:


Mind you, Pete Rose ain't going into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of his gambling problems.

You say we should like this guy Jordan for WHO HE IS? Well, Jordan is a compulsive gambler, a marketing tool and numb to social issues. Is this really the kind of role model you'd want?

Some quotes from "Air Jordan"

"We're beating a lot of poor teams. So what? We won a lot of games last year, too. Will Horace and Bill still be playing at this level in the playoffs...Can Pip keep it up?"

"I hate being out there with those garbage men. They don't get you the ball."

"You're an idiot. You've screwed up every play we ever ran. You're too stupid to even remember the plays. We ought to get rid of you." - Michael to Horace Grant

"If you [pass the ball to Bill Cartwright], you'll never get the ball from me."

"We're not winning because of talent. We're just beating bad teams."

"Headache tonight, Scottie?" - Michael asks Scottie, while showing him his 2-for-16 line

"It's probably a twelve-day. He needs two days to wake up." - Michael on a ten-day contract teammate 

"He can't do anything with the ball. Don't give it to him." - Michael yelling at Paxson who passed the ball to Purdue 

"You ever hear of a guy, six-eleven maybe and two hundred sixty pounds, a guy big and fat like that and he can't get but two rebounds, if that many, running all over the damn court and he gets two rebounds? Big guy like that and he gets one rebound. Can't even stick his **** into people and get more than that...Big, fat, fat guy. One rebound in three games. Power forward. Maybe they should call it powerless forward." - Michael ripping Stacey King a new one 

"He was scared in there and panicking. He just lost it when Stockton scored." - Michael on B.J. Armstrong's mental fragility"

"They don't need a ticket to watch you sitting on the bench. They can go to your house for that." - Michael to Charles Davis who was sorting through his tickets for his family and friends

"Give me the ******* ball." - Michael to Doug Collins who drew up a play for Dave Corzine 

"If I were a general manager, we'd be a better team." ( Wizards? Bobcats? ) 

Good role model, eh?

Wilt on the otherhand was a very nice guy, so outgoing and friendly....but I've heard some guys saying "How can a guy who claimed to bedded 20.000 womens is nice?"

Well, I'll tell you the truth about it....

Wilt said he believed that there was no way he could promise to remain faithful to one woman for an entire lifetime. He looked at marriage as something sacred, and something which he felt he could not live up to the necessary vows.

The 20,000 figure was hyperbole. the 20,000 number he basically explained it this way: "If I said I've slept with a lot of women, what would that mean to someone? To some guys, ten is a lot of women...to some guys, TWO is a lot of women... I just used the 20,000 number to explain that I've been with more women that the average guy can possibly imagine". Chamberlain was a complicated individual. And he compartmentalized his life in such a way that he would share part of his life with some people, and part of his life with others... but he was never comfortable opening up his whole life to any one person.

But the number was an exaggeration, kind of like you or I saying "I've seen that rerun a million times".

He also never knowningly slept with a woman if (1) he knew she was married or (2) he knew one of his teammates had gotten to her first.

Wilt's books 

"Wilt: Just Like Any Other 7 Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door" (now out of print)
"A View From Above" (contained the 20,000 remark)
"Who's Running The Asylum" (explains the 20,000 remark)

and his posthumous biography "Wilt: Larger Than Life" ,
are four of the best basektball books ever written by or about a professional basketball player.

The first three were written by Wilt himself.

Also, "The Rivalry" is a fantastic book which covers the rivalry 
and post-rivalry lives of the greatest individual matchup in the history of team sports: Chamberlain vs. Russell. It is the first such book to specifically cover that topic.

And of course, it's always better not to have kids in the first place than it is to have kids and not be a father (a la Michael Jordan)

In another book ("Whos' Running the Asylum?") following his "View From Above", he also wrote the following: 

"I feel that I owe a sincere apology to any of my readers, fans or friends who may have thought that I used my ("View From Above") book in bad taste in order to glorify my sexual exploits. That was never my purpose. I especially apologize if I have offended, even slightly, any of the women I now know, or those I have known. Though many among you were, in appearance, "a number", none of you were ever just a number to me".

Here's another interesting story about him...

One of the kinder superstars in NBA history was Wilt Chamberlain. He gave away tons of money to charities through the years, and left a considerable amount to charities in his will. He was also very giving of his time, not only while still an active player, but also throughout his retirement. One reason his autograph was not worth as much as a lot of other athletes (relative to their accomplishments) is that he signed autographs for just about everyone who ever asked him over the years.

He was usually not that good with answering mail. He'd get around to it, but it usually took a while. 

One of Wilt's teammates was a fellow by the name of Paul Arizin. 

Arizin was a great player in his time (career 1951-62) and is a Hall of Famer, in addition to being a top 50 player (as selected in 1996). He played 12 seasons, averaged 17 ppg as a rookie and more than 20 ppg in each of his other 11 seasons.

In 1993, Arizin's granddaughter Stephanie, unbeknownst to her family, wrote a letter to Wilt asking for an autograph. Stephanie was then 11 years old.

She had written to Wilt in care of the Lakers, and the letter was forwarded to the office of Wilt's attorney and best friend, Sy Goldberg. But because Goldberg's office had moved and Wilt was often inattentive to his mail, the letter was not even opened for THREE years.

When Wilt finally got around to reading it, he immediately called the then-14-year-old Stephanie in suburban Philadelphia, and Wilt and the young girl quickly established an unusual rapport.

Wilt later called Stephanie's father (the son of his former teammate Paul) at work to tell him how much he had enjoyed talking to Stephanie and apologized that it had taken him so long to respond. "She must have thought I was such a jerk, not answering a little girl's request," Wilt said... "I had to call her up and let her know what happened." 

It was then that Michael Arizin (Stephanie's father and Paul's son) informed Wilt that, only a week before, Stephanie had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and had been given 12 to 18 months to live. She had never mentioned the illness in her conversations with Wilt. 

Wilt promised to stay in touch with Stephanie on a regular basis. True to his word, Wilt spoke to Stephanie Arizin almost every Friday, often for an hour, during the last 15 months of her life. On July 30, 1997, Stephanie passed away at age 16.

Right after her death, Wilt, who was to live little more than two more years himself, sent this telegram:

To the Arizin family: 
My sincerest condolences. I am here for you, all of you, if ever I am needed.
I may have tears in my eyes... I lost a friend who was full of strength and loved life passionately... From Stehpanie I realize that you're never too old to learn and never too young to teach. Her body may now be gone, but in my memory she can always be reached. I will forever rejoice in my memory of what she brought to my life in our very short time of friendship.
Love and peace,
Wilt Chamberlain

A great story. No one really knew about this until Paul Arizin spoke at Wilt's funeral and told everyone assembled there what had happened with Stephanie.

In his will, Wilt left specific bequests ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 to close relatives, $50,000 each to Overbrook High School and the Sonny Hill Basketball League in Philly, and $100,000 to Operation Smile, a nonprofit group of doctors who perform reconstructive surgery on indigent children in the U.S. and developing countries.

After taxes were paid on the estate, Wilt also left $650,000 to Kansas University, and additional $1 million to operation smile and two million dollars to the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund, a non profit organization based in Philadelphia.

I think it can be said that Wilt's being such a nice guy affected his play on the court. Although he was as talented and skilled as anyone who ever played the game, he admitted that he often lacked a killer instinct out there (which of course, Russell never did).

One thing that I always thought worked to Wilt's disadvantage was the fact that he was a genuinely nice guy... I mean, he had the temperament and demeanor of a David Robinson out there on the court... he liked people, and he really did care about what other people (and sportswriters) thought of him.

When Willis Reed was injured during the 1970 finals, and made his dramatic appearance in game 7, you could tell that Wilt eased up a little bit... Wilt was worried that he'd be labeled as mean if he took advantage of the fact that Reed could barely make it up and down the court. Russell said (rightfully so, I think) that if he had been out there, he would have run Willis into the ground... and you can tell he would have, too... but Wilt was actually too nice a guy to take advantage of that... he'd come back from a career threatening injury that very season.

Few quotes regarding of "Wilt's nice personality"

"Wilt was so aware of his strength and was so strong that he would sometimes go up weak on a dunk or do a lay up because Wilt was actually worried that he would injure the defender or break the defenders arm or wrist had he used his full strength."

~Jerry West

"The best thing that happened to the NBA is that God made Wilt a nice person... he could all have killed us with his left hand."

~ Jack McMahon

Jordan was much more selfish. When Wilt's coaches asked him to score, he did. When they asked him to sacrificed his scoring titles, he did. Jordan fought any attempt to cut back his shot attempts. Read about Jordan's spats with Phil Jackson. Read about how he put down Tex Winter and the triangle! Even his own teammate Horace Grant said that Jordan cared more about his points than the team. If Wilt had that selfish attitude, there is no telling how many more points he would have. Also, if you take Wilt's scoring through the same number of career games, his scoring average is higher. 

If Wilt was as selfish as Jordan, there's no telling how many more points he would have scored.

Jordan actually did average more FGA/game that Wilt over the course of their careers. Jordan averaged 22.9 shots/game over his career compared to Wilt's 22.5 FGA/game. Wilt shot a lot earlier in his career, but cut back as his teams got better. Jordan ALWAYS took a lot of shots, from day one to the end of his career.

Considering that Wilt shot 54% from the field over his career, it wouldn't have taken very many more FGA per game for his scoring average to surpass Jordan's. Had Wilt taken an extra 2 shots per game, that would have added 2 points to his scoring average (because he shot 54% from the field). In reality, even taking an extra 0.2 shots per game (i.e. averaging one more shot per every five games played) would have moved Wilt's average over Jordan's.

Jordan's scoring average was slightly higher (30.12 compared to 30.07 for Wilt) because he hit one more free throw per game than Wilt did, in addition to hitting an occasional 3 point FG.

The scoring average thing is not a big deal when you talking 30.12 compared to 30.07. Jordan had the benefit of knowing exactly how many points he had to score (and average) in his final season in order to keep his scoring average higher than Wilt's.

Had Wilt been worried about his PPG average ever being broken, he could have put the record way out of sight. But in each of his last two seasons, he took fewer than 10 shots per game (but shot .649 and .727 from the field during those two seasons). His .727 FG percentage is the highest ever for a season, and no one's going to touch that record. In his final season, Wilt still led the NBA in rebounding at the age of 36, averaging 18.6 reb/game, his second lowest total ever for a full season.

Wilt is a vastly superior rebounder, and while Jordan fans will point out that "Wilt should have more, since he is a center", I would point out that Jordan should have a lot more assists, since he is a guard, but the numbers do not support him. 

Wilt is one of the greatest passers ever at center, but Jordan of course wasn't a dominating rebounder. And while Jordan does have more 1st team all defensive selections, keep in mind that #1) the team wasn't created until Wilt's 10th year in the league and #2) Only one center is selected vs. 2 guards. 

If Jordan were the greatest defensive guard ever, there would be a point, but he wasn't. 

Jordan also received the benefit of rules changes that have been implemented to help offensive players, such as well-defined rules concerning zones, rules against hand checking, and flagrant fouls. 

Jordan was spoiled by the luxuries given to the modern player, such as chartered planes, first class hotels, superior athletic shoes, and modern sports medicine (and he still never approached Wilt's minutes per game!). Jordan benefited from the joke that has become NBA officiating, in which superstars receive preferential treatment, and Jordan has probably received more than any player in history. The steps and the fouls he got away with were ridiculous (not that it's Jordan's fault for taking advantage of that).

If Jordan was so great that the NBA literally re-wrote the rule book trying to control his dominance, THEN he could call himself the best ever. But just the opposite happened. The rules were relaxed to help Jordan's game. 
(such as moving in the 3 point line because he couldn't buy a basket from out there). But in Wilt's case, the league kept rewriting rules to stop Wilt's dominance, there is another one of the rule changes attributed to Wilt. He was such a horrible free throw shooter, that he used to dunk his free throws.

Wilt was capable of dunking the ball from beyond the charity stripe with hardly any running start unlike shorter guys like Jordan and Dr. J. Had the NBA allowed it to continue, Wilt would have been a 100% (or close to it anyway) career FT shooter but they stepped in and banned dunking from the freethrow line while taking freethrows. Wilt was forced to shoot freethrows just like everybody else.

http://www.nba.com/history/players/chamberlain_bio.html (It's on the 7th paragraph!)

There are no video footage of Wilt's feat because for one it was only in 1980 when Stern forced NBA owners to cough up the money for video cassettes to record every game of the season for posterity. Second, at that time in the early 60's, video footage are rare and even if they were, are not easily preserved. Third, the Lakers' Kangaroo Kid (i think Pollard was the name of this white guy) was already dunking from the free throw line although, he only does it as an exhibition during warmups. more than any player in history. Not to mention that the league did everything they could to stop Wilt's dominance (letting opponents grad, hold, knee Wilt) , unlike Jordan who received more preferential treatment than anyone in history. 
Wilt got pounded every night by the defense, and the refs let it happen. In earlier years, they did this to make up for the fact that Wilt was so big and talented. In later years, they did this because they felt sorry for Wilt because he couldn't shoot free throws very well. One ref told him, "Wilt, I know you get hacked every time, but the game would be pretty boring watching you go one for two from the line every time down the court."

We all know what happened to any player caught breathing anywhere in Jordan's vicinity. 

Chamberlain has more 60 point games than everyone else in the history of the NBA combined, and he's been retired for 34 years. He also has far more 50 point games than anyone else. He had almost 120 fifty point games, Jordan was 2nd with almost forty 50 point games. No contest.

Wilt, of course, was the greatest rebounder in history.

Scoring: Wilt had six of the ten 70 point games in NBA history. 

Rebounding: Wilt had 14 of the 24 forty-rebound games in NBA history (others were Russell with 8, and Nate Thurmond and Jerry Lucas, who did it once each).

Wilt had the only game in NBA history with 20 pts, 20 rebounds and 20 assists in the same game...a double-triple-double.

Jordan was a good individual defender, but the nature of the game itself prevents guards from dominating defensively, because to dominate defensively, you have to shut down the middle, and guards just can't do that...neither can forwards.

Unless you want to have a free-throw shooting contest, Wilt would dominate Jordan in every category, even passing, as Jordan never led the league in assists.

Those of you who wonder why Jordan retired when he did (in 2003)...here's the answer...in his final season, Jordan busted his a$$ to average 20 ppg... had he started off the following season and averaged 20 ppg after seven games, his career scoring average would have dropped below Wilt's. Jordan wanted to stay #1 in that category, thus his final retirement.

He's overrated in the sense that you can't really say that one individual player is provably better than everyone else who ever played the game. In Jordan's case, no matter what he did, there was always someone else who did it just as well, or better. Jordan doesn't really hold very many records for a guy who's considered to be the best player ever.

It's VERY safe to say he was the best player of the 1990s, and imo I don't think any player who's come along since is better than Jordan was (Phil Jackson has his reasons for saying Kobe is better or whatever it was he said, but I would not say that Kobe is better than Jordan was in his prime).

On the other hand, guys like Wilt, Russell, Jabbar, Magic and Bird have great arguments to be called the best player ever, and even Shaq is in that category. Bird is in this group because forward is by far the toughest position from which to dominate a game, but Bird was a totally dominant player from the forward position, the first such player in NBA history.

Jordan benefited greatly from rules changes and officiating. I should point out that it's NOT Jordan's fault that the refs let him get away with things other players would be called for... Jordan would be a fool to NOT take advantage of such a situation. But the fact is, Jordan was never so dominant that the NBA felt the need to re-write its rule book (as it did with certain other players). As I said, the rules were changed to make the game EASIER for Jordan, not more difficult.

Jordan was an incredible player to watch. But he would be the #1 choice of a teammate among only a very small percentage of players in NBA history. Most players would much rather have played with Magic, Kareem Bird or Russell than Jordan, because all of those guys were far more unselfish.

But there's really nothing Jordan did that someone else hasn't done better.

If Jordan did what he did in the pre-ESPN era, he'd be more forgotten than Wilt (not that Wilt's forgotten of course). 

How good would Jordan be considered to be if there was almost no video footage of him?

ESPN has been paid umpteen million dollars by NIKE to pump up Jordan as the GOAT... as long as the money flows, ESPN will toe the line.

So Jordan won't be forgotten. Endless replays of his first round shot against the Cavs (along with the phony, inserted-after-the-fact "shot on Ehlo" call) have etched him into the memories of millions of people who never even saw him play a single game.

Relatively little footage exists (or is shown) from Wilt's career, and almost nothing from his prime. More than 95% of the footage of Wilt that's ever shown is from his Laker days after he recovered from a knee injury that would have ended the careers of 99% of all the players who ever played in the NBA.

Plus, in Wilt's day, they didn't name shoes after players.

If only Wilt had that Russell's "killer instinct", if only ESPN existed during his days, if only he has more rings, then there's no question who the greatest player is....

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!