Revisited: “Michael is the epitome of show biz” - Wilt Chamberlain heaps high praise on Michael Jordan, says he’s one of those rare specimens

Wilt Chamberlain praises Michael Jordan [Photo: The New York Times]
Wilt Chamberlain praises Michael Jordan [Photo: The New York Times]

Wilt Chamberlain was one of the best players in NBA history, which is why him complimenting Michael Jordan is a big deal. At the time Chamberlain heaped praise on MJ, the latter was on his way to his second three-peat.

Although the GOAT debate has been between Jordan and LeBron James for the longest time, Chamberlain, who died in October 1999, set incredible NBA records. In his 14-year career, he led the league in rebounds 11 times, while claiming seven scoring titles. Perhaps his most incredible achievement was scoring 100 points in a single game, the highest tally in league history.

In December 1997, the four-time MVP was on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," when he was asked how he felt MJ would fare in his era, he said:

"Michael Jordan is one of those rare specimens that could have played any particular time and is a gifted athlete who’s using those gifts in basketball incredibly so. He has been the liaison between something that’s not so good and making it great for all the rest. I think that almost every man in the NBA should him give 10% of their checks."

Speaking about his playing style and how he would have coped, Chamberlain said:

"His playing style was, he’s 6-7 and he’s like 197 pounds. Coming into what we call our domain, the pivot for us big guys, would not have been very wise of Michael if he was playing during our time. So, we would say, ‘Michael, you know, as long as you do those fancy things outside of where we are, that’s fine.’ It wouldn’t have been good for Michael."

Wilt Chamberlain believed Michael Jordan could have ridden the bench in his time

Although Wilt Chamberlain recognized Michael Jordan's talent, he does not believe the community would have accepted Jordan's style of play at the time. Fans in that era were not impressed by style points. Chamberlain also gave several reasons why Jordan's style of play might have been a problem.

"The mentality of the fan today is wonderful, and they've learned to accept show biz," Chamberlain said. "And Michael is the epitome of show biz along with that great talent. During my time, if you did the 360, first of all, the opposition would take it as an insult that you would try to do something like that against them.
"The coach on your own team, if you weren’t at least 90 thousand points ahead, would bench you. And the fans would look at you like, ‘Well, he’s the biggest hot dog in the world!’"

When asked if MJ would have been on the bench during Wilt's era, the big man immediately said yes.

"Absolutely," Chamberlain said. "But now in Chicago, if he doesn’t give you one of those 360s you’re talking about, even though their team is 90 points ahead, they’re looking for something spectacular."

While his style of play and success might have been questioned in the 1960s and 1970s, Jordan dominated in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Your daily reminder of just how 𝗱𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗻𝘁 Wilt Chamberlain was in his prime.He has more 50-point games that these players COMBINED 🤯:• Michael Jordan• Kobe Bryant• LeBron James• Stephen Curry• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar• Kevin Durant

The Hall of Famer won six titles in eight years, winning the Finals MVP award six times. Added to that were 10 scoring titles and five regular-season MVPs, among others.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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