Ray Scott’s NBA is worlds different from today’s NBA. Comparing them is foolishly comparing solid food to watered-down mush — my words, not his.
The league consisted only of nine teams throughout most of Scott’s 11-year NBA career (1961-70). “The top of that food chain was the Boston Celtics, St. Louis Hawks and the Lakers,” admits Scott.
“When you had that type of league…the [championship] flag was already made — the Boston Celtics. The Celtics had seven players. All of them would make the Hall of Fame. I played 11 years, and they won nine times.”
Scott, the fourth overall pick of the 1961 draft, played for Detroit (1961-67) and Baltimore (1966-70), then two more seasons with the ABA’s Virginia Squires (1970-72). The 6-9 power forward played alongside several future Hall of Famers: “I played opposite of Bailey Howell and Dave DeBusschere. Then, when I went to the Bullets, I played opposite of Gus Johnson. Then, when I went to the Virginia Squires, I played opposite of Julius Erving,” he says proudly.
He also played against the greatest player in NBA history — Wilt Chamberlain, “the player in my opinion that the league does not talk enough about, in terms of what he contributed to the game,” proclaims Scott.
Oh yes, Chamberlain is on the NBA’s 35th Anniversary All-Star Team and one of the league’s 50 greatest players, so honored in 1996, three years before his death in 1999. His 100-point game 50 years ago is widely seen as a statistical freak, but no one has yet to top it.
Chamberlain’s “larger-than-life NBA statistics” should no longer be ignored by the sports media who “pretend [his records] never happened,” said POPSspot.com’s “Wilt’s 100 at 50: Sports Media Must End NBA Statistical Segregation” in March.
ESPN and others last season went Mr. Magoo-eyes when the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love reached 52 consecutive double-double games, boasting that he passed over Moses Malone while overlooking the fact that neither player covered 23 percent of Chamberlain’s 227 straight double-doubles.
His “worst” season, statistically speaking, was his last in 1972-73 when Chamberlain averaged 13 points a game, the lowest in his 14-year career. No one has yet to average 50 points in a season as Wilt did in 1961-62. He led the league in rebounds 11 times, including his final season in 1973.
Furthermore, I can’t remember any center leading the league in assists as he did in 1967-68. Wilt won the NBA MVP that season, the fourth and final time he was honored. And, the 7-1 great still remains the only player in NBA history to have never fouled out of a contest and to have a 30-point career scoring average.
“Bill [Russell was] the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics” with 11 NBA titles, “but Wilt Chamberlain was the cornerstone of the NBA,” continues Scott. “Babe Ruth became the brand for Major League Baseball. It was the same thing for Wilt Chamberlain.”
But when the league introduced its new logo in 1970, which still exists today, they used Jerry West as its model. “I don’t think the league really puts [Wilt] on that pedestal in terms of making the NBA” what it is today, surmises Scott. (A future “View” column will spotlight Scott’s career.)
Philadelphia Tribune reporter Donald Hunt is spearheading a drive to get Chamberlain’s likeness on a U.S. postage stamp. “It would be a real nice tribute to Wilt and his career,” he explains. “He would be the first basketball player on a stamp, and a lot of kids will be able to learn about his great basketball legacy.”
He’s seeing progress on the stamp campaign, says Hunt. “We were hoping for this year, his 50-year anniversary [of his record scoring game], but we got our fingers crossed for 2013. Wilt deserves it.”
Personally, I haven’t seen a more dominant player than Chamberlain. Scott and Hunt also agree. “He’s the greatest player who ever played the game,” concludes Hunt.
Anyone interested in signing a petition to get Chamberlain on a U.S. stamp can go to www.Phillytrib.com. “All you have to do is click on Wilt’s photo,” notes Donald Hunt. “We have signatures from all over the country and all over the world.”
Did you know…?
Who has the same career scoring average as Wilt Chamberlain? (Answer in next week’s “View.”)
Answer to last week’s question: The Heritage Sports Radio Network (HSRN) went on the air in 2006 and combines radio, Internet, print and television media “to create a network that can effectively reach the 7 million fans of HBCU sports.” The HSRN website (www.hsrn.com) says, “Our objective is to entertain and educate our audience…”
Next week: The “NBAAA”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokes man-recorder.com.
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