When Wilt was Finals MVP with an injured dominant hand
COULDN'T BEND IT

When Wilt was Finals MVP with an injured dominant hand

The year is 1972, the Knicks and the Lakers are in the NBA Finals. The matchup that would mark the series was Walt Frazier vs. Wilt Chamberlain, but both teams were loaded with NBA legends. 

Walt played alongside Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradlee, Dave Debusschere, and a skinny power forward, Phil Jackson. Wilt had Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, and a guard by the name of Pat Riley. Still, everyone’s eyes were on the battle of the giants. After Game 4, the Lakers were up 3-1, but had troubling news. Wilt had sprained the wrist of his shooting hand. 

“I felt a little pain in my wrist, not a great pain. But by the next day, when we returned to Los Angeles, it had swollen so much that X‐rays were needed.”

Wilt Chamberlain, NY Times

Could the Knicks turn this around? Series have swung on lesser players getting injured. 24 points, 29 rebounds, and 10 blocks later, the Lakers won the NBA title and Wilt Chamberlain became the oldest Finals MVP at the time at 35 years old. If it wasn’t impressive enough, new broke it wasn’t just a sprain. 

“I knew it was broken on Saturday, when I saw the Xrays, but no one else really knew it except the doctor and me. At that time, I honestly felt that couldn’t play on Sunday, couldn’t bend it. But with an anti‐inflammatory injection and ice packs, it improved.”

Wilt Chamberlain, NY Times

Three years before, the Lakers were playing the Celtics in the ’69 Finals and Wilt left a game with a leg injury. Bill Russell called Wilt out, saying that the only thing that would stop him from playing would be a broken leg. It turned out Wilt had a torn ligament. There was no way an injury would stop Wilt this time.

Wilt didn’t forget to send his regards to Russell while accepting a Dodge station wagon as the Finals MVP. The feud was alive and well.