Few things are more important to the modern NBA than rings. Championships have always mattered, but the internet has put more stress on player legacy than ever before. If an athlete wants to be great, they need a few titles. However, that wasn’t always true.
Wilt Chamberlain has 2 championship rings (1967, 1972).
Though he’s undoubtedly one of the best players ever, Wilt Chamberlain didn’t have the best luck in the playoffs. The following guide will analyze why that is, and show how he managed to be regarded so highly despite struggling on basketball’s biggest stage.
One Team on Top
Everyone who plays the game of basketball strives to win a championship. However, the NBA is not about one ring. It’s about dynasties. There are a few exceptions, but most athletes in the top ten or twenty players of all time have been a part of (or have led) a multi-title winning team.
The league has been that way ever since the Celtics first dominated the 60’s, and it’s a common theme that’s stayed consistent as the years have gone on. Every decade has had one dominant team, from the Lakers and Bulls to the Spurs and Warriors.
Taking that into account, not every superstar gets to be on those squads. Sometimes, a truly great player has to go it alone. That was the case for Wilt. However, he’s still considered by most to be in the top five or ten players ever simply because he was so dominant.
A Tough Road
Every decade is marked by a super team, as well as the other great squad that tries (and fails) to go against them. Sometimes a player gets to be on the Stephen Curry Warriors, and sometimes they’re a part of the Lebron James Cavaliers.
Unfortunately for Wilt, he was on the losing side of the 60’s. The big man immediately exploded into the NBA, dominating just about everyone he went up against. He set records for points, rebounds, and blocks with ease. Many of his achievements are still intact to this day.
Still, despite that success, winning a title is more than a one man job. Wilt thrived as a dominant center, utilizing his power on top of a great hook shot, solid fundamentals, and lights out footwork. The team around him, while powerful, weren’t on the same level.
Green is Good
As mentioned, every decade has a dynasty. In the NBA, there has never been a more dominant team than the 1960’s Celtics. Led by Bill Russel, the squad won a staggering ten titles in eleven years between 1959 and 1969. That didn’t give Chamberlain a lot of room to work with.
Still, the Celtics one miss came in 1967 to the 76ers. Led by Wilt, they had a stellar season where they put away the Celtics in a hard-fought playoff series before going on to win it all.
That was Wilt’s first title, which came quite late into his career. As soon as they won, the 76er’s door closed. The Celtics went on to win every other championship in the 60’s, and completed one of the most historic runs in NBA history.
Chamberlain is an incredible player. Despite falling to the Celtics multiple times throughout the 60’s and only bringing home one ring in the decade, his skill and power was good enough for a slew of unbreakable records, as well as three MVPs.
Even so, despite his individual accolades, Chamberlain wanted to get back to the top of the mountain one more time. He got his shot with the Lakers. After being traded to Los Angeles in 1968, the big man put together more MVP-caliber seasons and led the team to the Finals.
He would go onto lose in 1968, 1969, and 1970. However, after three years of disappointing defeats he finally got his second ring during the 1971 season. Bringing home his second title was a huge achievement, and something he sought for years.
Satisfied with number two, and happy with his stats, he decided to retire in 1973. He only won two championships during his long NBA tenure, but he was such an unmatched force that most still consider him one of the best to ever play in the NBA.
Few players in the history of the NBA are as iconic as Wilt Chamberlain. Stilt wasn’t just a great player, he was an all-time dynamic scorer, a stalwart defender, and a huge force on both sides of the court. He set countless records in his time that still haven’t been touched today.
Despite that, however, he wasn’t known for his championships. However, his long reign and lasting legacy show that rings, while currently important, truly aren’t everything. It is possible to be great without winning year in and year out.