Wilt Chamberlain was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history. He once scored 100 points in a single game — a milestone that may never be broken. Given his reputation as a monster scorer, some speculate on how he would fare in a different era. Chamberlain himself shared a forecast, and he was pretty confident he would do well.
Wilt Chamberlain playing in the late 90s
In 1997, when Chamberlain was about 60 years old, he sat down with Ahmad Rashad and Bill Russell. The three conversed about anything and everything about basketball. Inevitably, they entertained the thought of what it would be like if Chamberlain played in the late 90s.
“I could get maybe 30 right now, big fella. I’m trying to tell you that. But at 30, I could probably average 60 or 70. Period. The game would best suit me,” Chamberlain said.
This was not a wild exaggeration by Chamberlain. In the 1961-62 NBA season, he averaged 50.4 points per game for the Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors). In the following season, he averaged 44.8 points per game.
In the 90s, big men like Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing were at the center of their team’s offense. Chamberlain knew, that if he played under a much more sophisticated offensive playbook, then he would’ve wreaked greater havoc on his foes.
Ultimately, we’ll never know how Chamberlain would’ve fared in the 90s or even today. What we could do is guess what type of player he’ll be or whether he’ll fit in today’s modern brand of basketball.
Video clips suggest that he wasn’t your typical big man who was hefty and immobile. There were times when he was seemingly tempted to bring the ball up himself. It’s easy to imagine Chamberlain playing like Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While he’s most known for putting the ball in the basket, clips and stats reveal that he was an excellent passer as well. In fact, Wilt the Stilt averaged as many as 8.6 assists in his career. Such skills and stats remind us of someone like Nikola Jokic, now known as the best passing center in NBA history.
Finally, there’s this assumption that Chamberlain just bullied his way to the ring. Some assume that he just used his size and strength to drop 50 points on his opponents’ heads with ease. But the reality is, Wilt was armed with a fadeaway shot from the post. This was the offensive tool he utilized the most. The man had a soft and educated stroke behind that muscular facade - a lethal combination in any basketball era.