We can all agree on one thing — comparing eras is unfair. Too many hypotheticals are involved—too much subjectivity with very few facts to back it up.
Yet, some players transcend those limitations. There’s a handful of all-time greats who would be dominant no matter the era. For Antonio Williams – former Suns‘ scout – Wilt Chamberlain is that guy. And according to Antonio, that’s what makes him the greatest of all time.
If you look at what Wilt was able to do statistically, Wilt could’ve done that in any era. He could’ve done that against anybody.Antonio Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Why Chamberlain could’ve done that against anybody? Because he had something a lot of today’s NBA players don’t have — he had functional athleticism. According to Williams, that’s what makes Wilt adaptable, no matter the context you put him in.
Pick the NBA player when they get invited to a baseball game, and they throw out the first pitch. And it’s like, ‘how can this person be so athletic, and that ball is all over the place?’ Because they don’t have functional athleticism. Wilt was dominant in track and field, dominant as a sprinter, dominant as a jumper — he had functional athleticism, and that translated to basketball.Antonio Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Wilt’s unmatched athletic ability manifested through video game numbers he put up over his 14-year NBA career. Numerous records were broken, countless thresholds were reached that will forever be set in stone. And just when everyone thought he couldn’t possibly do more, Chamberlain did something no one expected him to do.
For a guy to literally play the five when centers were in their most traditional sense and score the amount of points that he scored, averaging the amounts of rebounds that averaged, to be able to do that and play in an era with Kareem, play in an era with Russell, and then to turn around and say ‘I’m gonna lead the league in assists because you guys say I’m selfish.’Antonio Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
It happened during the 67/68 NBA season, when Wilt notched 8.6 assists per game, becoming the only player ever to have led the league in points, rebounds, and assists over the course of the season. For a former NBA scout who grew up a Michael Jordan fan, that settles the GOAT debate.
It’s not No. 23. It’s Wilt the Stilt.