Skip to main content

Wilt could've played against Bird, Magic, ​and Jordan

Wilt-Chamberlain

The lack of video and all the content we read about dieting and workout programs makes us believe players today are, without a doubt physically dominant compared to those in the 60s and 70s. Even players such as Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain get an honorary mention but are never really considered in the "greatest athlete" conversation.

A walk down memory lane teaches us a different lesson. Wilt was always a superior athlete; but the main premise is that, while Wilt was a great athlete, the disparity comes from his competition being bad. To put sum it up - he was great, but his competition sucked.

The year was 1978, and Wilt was 42 years old. He had retired five years ago, yet the Warriors and Bulls were trying to convince Wilt to come back and play for them. The Lakers stepped in and claimed he could only come back to LA, as he had a year left on his contract when he retired.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Wilt was still in great shape, but the teams didn't understand that it wasn't the physical conditioning that made him retire. Like many other players, Wilt spoke of not being willing to do all the mental work necessary to go out on an NBA court and compete.

Wilt would get offers to come back and play for years to come, and we are talking serious, official offers - not just a hint in the press. He rejected the Suns and Cavs in '79, 76ers in '85 and the Nets in '86. Imagine that, Wilt defending the rim on a Jordan drive! The last offer, from the Nets, annoyed Wilt. They offered $362.500 for the last seven games of the regular season and the playoffs. (via LA Times)

"It was not a fair proposal. They didn't ask what kind of shape I was in, whether I had a cold or a toothache. ... You don't take a guy and throw him out there with nine others, four on his team, five playing against him, and expect anything like you used to get. ... It's an honor that someone thinks you're capable of doing it. I stopped playing because I was no longer mentally capable of going out there every day. I don't want to play. I'm quite happy doing what I am doing."

So Wilt, at age 50, rejected the chance to go back out there and play for New Jersey. Why did they think he was capable? This archive video might explain a few things.

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler during media day

Is Jimmy Butler the ultimate troll or a business guru?

With Jimmy Butler moving towards the latter half of his career, it seems that he wants to start building his off-court brand.

Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan on Oprah Show

“He never understand what it takes to be a winner” — When Michael Jordan humiliated Charles Barkley on Oprah

It’s hard to tell if Jordan took Barkley’s joke personally, but what he said next changed the vibe and the entire atmosphere in a few seconds.

Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan

"I don't think I could truly be happy until I retire" - DeMar DeRozan pulls the curtain back on daily rigors of NBA life

There's one thing Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is looking forward to the most when he hangs up his sneakers for good.

Venus Williams and Shaquille O'Neal

When Shaquille O'Neal lied about having affairs with Venus Williams, Cindy Crawford, and Aaliyah

Venus Williams issued a strong statement upon hearing Shaquille O'Neal's claims.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan is defended by Detroit Pistons center James Edwards

“The Bulls complained all the time” — Kevin McHale reveals why the Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons hated the Chicago Bulls

Unlike Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Kevin McHale believes the physicality the Bad Boy Pistons played with was valid and it made his Celtics even better.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook still does the same offseason workout he and Kevin Durant used to do in OKC — “It definitely helps”

Russell Westbrook revealed that he has been running on sand dunes for about eight years now every offseason and it has been helping him a lot.

New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman

How Chris Kaman got Player Exclusive "Air Sasqhatuces" from Nike in 2012

After he became an All-Star in 2010, Chris Kaman triggered a clause in his Nike deal that he’d get Player Exclusives