Skip to main content

Rick Barry called Wilt Chamberlain a loser: "No way you can compare him to a pro like a Bill Russell or a Jerry West"

Barry shared some harsh criticisim for the great Wilt
Rick Barry values winning over stats.

Rick Barry values winning over stats.

When you mention Wilt Chamberlain's name in NBA circles, it's usually to talk about some unbreakable record he set during the 60s, at the peak of his career. Many consider the 7'1'' 'Big Dipper as the most dominant force the league has ever seen, and the astronomical numbers back it up. But as always, there's an exception.

Numbers over rings

Despite dropping 100 points in a game, averaging 50 for a season, and picking up almost every individual award there is in his 15-year career, Wilt only has two championships to his name -- one with Philadelphia in 1967 and one with the Lakers in 1972, at the tail end of his career; a number many would say is low, especially when you look at his individual output.

In 1967, Wilt beat the San Franciso Warriors, who used to be his team. That must've rubbed the Warriors star, Rick Barry, the wrong way, given that he criticized Chamberlain in his book 'Confessions of a Basketball Gyps,' calling him a loser, afraid of the big moment.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

“I’ll say what most players feel, which is that Wilt is a loser…He is terrible in big games. He knows he is going to lose and be blamed for the loss, so he dreads it, and you can see it in his eyes; and anyone who has ever played with him will agree with me, regardless of whether they would admit it publicly... When it comes down to the closing minutes of a tough game, an important game, he doesn’t want the ball, he doesn’t want any part of the pressure. It is at these times that greatness is determined and Wilt doesn’t have it. There is no way you can compare him to a pro like a Bill Russell or a Jerry West…these are clutch competitors.”

Rick Barry, Confessions of a Basketball Gypsy: The Rick Barry Story

Well, it's not usual that we see someone bash Wilt and his career, but Barry spared no criticism. Wilt went to the Finals 6 times in his career, losing 4 of them, mostly to the dynasty Celtics and Bill Russell. That's why many people consider Russell to be the better center, despite not having as flashy individual numbers as Wilt. But the 11 rings speak for themselves.

On the other hand, Jerry West, who is also mentioned, might be called Mr. Clutch, but his Finals record of 1-8 wouldn't back that up. Still, his clutch shot-making ability and loyalty to the Lakers give him a good reputation amongst all NBA fans. Ironically the one ring he did win was with Wilt in 1972.

Personal grudge?

As far as Barry's words go, it's maybe a bit overboard to call Wilt a loser. After all, someone that reaped so much havoc on opposing players and notched those kinds of numbers can't be a loser. But the fact is that he is not the best winner we have seen. 

The 51.1% free throw percentage for his career made him a liability in close games down the stretch, and it reflected on his teams often being on the losing end of those battles, with Wilt either shying away from closing the game or failing to do so.

That's why Barry saying Wilt is not on the same level as Bill Russell or Jerry West isn't that crazy, but still calling him a loser is a bit too much. I guess those 1967 Finals stung pretty bad for Barry.

Laker center Shaquille O'Neal

“He bought a new Rolex for every single guy on the team” — former Laker Mark Madsen reveals Shaquille O'Neal's generosity

Just when Madsen thought Shaq buying him a car would finish the shopping spree, O'Neal decided to buy every Laker a brand new Rollie.

LeBron James admits he started taking care of his body pretty late in his career

LeBron shares his top three players of all time: "This is tough!"

Back in 2014, LeBron had a lot of trouble picking just three guys.


Tracy McGrady calls out Rudy Gobert: "What the f**k are you doing in the off-season?"

T-Mac just can comprehend Gobert hasn't added any moves to his offensive game over the years.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan once went from judging a dunk contest to destroying the winner in street clothes

MJ's future teammate Jo Jo English was one of the first people to learn an important lesson - never talk trash to Black Jesus.

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh promotes healthy eating that keeps him in prime shape despite being retired — “It gives me the energy I need to go forward”

Fully aware his NBA days are behind him, Chris Bosh explained why he still eats healthy and works out every day.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan goes up against Utah Jazz player Bryon Russell

“There's no 'Jordan rules' when you play 1-on-1“ — Bryon Russell claims Michael Jordan 'chickened out' from a 1-on-1 challenge

After being called out by Michael Jordan during his Hall of Fame speech, Bryon Russell hit back and challenged MJ to a 1-on-1 game. According to Russell, Jordan "chickened out."

Lower Merion High School senior Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant had a “kill list” of 56 players who were ranked above him in high school

Trust Kobe Bryant to make any rankings lists (that has him as an underdog) look foolish