Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. Both men were exceptional athletes and dominated the game during their respective eras. Chamberlain was a physical specimen who could score at will and was virtually unstoppable on the court. Jordan, on the other hand, was a master of efficiency and his legendary work ethic made him the most feared player in the league.
In this article, we will be looking at their individual statistics and accomplishments in order to try to determine who was the better player.
Wilt Chamberlain Vs Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan Was Greater Than Wilt Chamberlain
When all-time greatest lists are released, either Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain is at the top. In all honesty, no other players figure into the equation of “Who is the best ever?”
Yes, Wilt did average 50.4 points per game one season, scored 100 points in a game once, and averaged 27.2 rebounds once.
Jordan concluded with the best scoring average in history (Wilt No. 2) and six titles on six opportunities, including six Finals MVPs.
To properly demonstrate why Jordan was superior, I divided their (regular season) careers in half for you to view and judge for yourself.
Wilt played 14 seasons, while Jordan played 15 seasons (over a 19-year span). I’ll compare Wilt’s first seven years to Jordan’s last eight (including Washington stats).
Wilt played 543 games throughout his first seven seasons, while Jordan played 509. Wilt logged 25,526 total minutes, averaging 47.0 minutes per game! Jordan played 38.7 minutes per game (19,673 total minutes).
Wilt scored 21,486 points in his first seven seasons, averaging 39.6 points per game. Jordan scored 16,596 points in his first seven seasons, averaging 32.6 points per game. However, dividing those figures reveals who was the true winner.
Wilt’s 21,486 points divided by 25,526 minutes equals.842 points per minute (remember, he played 47 minutes a night). 16,596 points divided by 19,673 minutes equals.844 points per minute for Jordan!
So, surprisingly, Jordan was the higher scorer.
Wilt (a 7’1″ 275-pound center) averaged 24.8 rebounds per game in his first seven years. Bill Russell, 6’9″ and 225 pounds, was the second tallest player in the eight-team league. Jordan (6’5″, 199 pounds) averaged 6.3 rebounds per game in his first seven seasons.
Wilt had 1,850 assists in his first seven seasons, averaging 3.4 per game. Jordan had 3,108 assists for a 5.9 average.
In his first seven seasons, Wilt topped the league in scoring seven times. In his first seven seasons, Jordan led the league in scoring five times.
Wilt reached the Finals only once in his first seven seasons, in 1964, losing to the Celtics four games to one. Jordan reached the NBA Finals once in his first seven seasons and won, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers four games to one.
Wilt played 502 games in his second seven seasons and 563 games in his last eight. Wilt played 22,333 minutes, for an average of 44.5 minutes per game!
Jordan has played 21,337 minutes over the previous eight seasons, averaging 37.9 minutes per night.
Wilt never led the league in scoring in his last seven seasons. In his last seven seasons, he scored 9,933 points, averaging 19.8 points per game. Jordan led the league five more times in his final eight seasons, bringing his total to ten, an all-time high. Jordan scored 15,696 points in that time, averaging 27.9 points per game.
Wilt added 10,433 boards in his remaining seven seasons for a 20.8 average. In his last seven seasons, Wilt averaged more rebounds than points. Jordan topped all guards with 3,486 rebounds per game (6.2 rebounds per game).
Wilt has scored significantly less and passed significantly more in his last seven seasons. In that time, he had 2,793 assists, and in his last eight games, he had 2,615 assists.
Both were defensively equal. They were both the best in their respective professions. Jordan set a record by leading the league in thefts three times, while Wilt would have led the league in blocks if the stat had been kept back then.
Wilt won only two championships in his last seven seasons (1967,1972). He also lost three times in the Finals (1969, 1970, 1973). When he was scoring champion, his teams never won a championship. Jordan earned five rings over the course of his last eight seasons, never losing a Finals series (1992,1993,1996,1997,1998). He was also the Finals MVP each time and led the league in scoring each of his six championships.
NBA Championships and Seasons
|Wilt Chamberlain||Michael Jordan|
Honors and Awards
|Wilt Chamberlain||Michael Jordan|
|All-NBA First Team||7||10|
|All-Defensive 1st Team||2||9|
|Defensive Player of The Year||1|
|Rookie of The Year||1||1|
The Argument For Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan altered the NBA’s superstar position. After averaging 28.2 points per game in his debut season, fans voted him in as a starter for the All-Star game. Jordan drew so much attention that NBA players were irritated. The veteran Isaiah Thomas spearheaded an All-Star game “freeze-out,” in which the players refused to deliver the ball to Jordan.
Jordan missed practically the whole 1986 season due to a foot injury, but he returned in 1987 and had the best scoring season of any player not named Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan was the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to average 37.1 points per game in his lone season with more than 3,000 points.
He was also a great defensive player, amassing more than 200 thefts and 100 blocks in a single season for the first time in history. As a result, his MVP vote finished second to Magic Johnson’s.
Jordan was selected MVP of the 1988 regular season as a rookie. He averaged 35.0 points per game thanks to a field goal percentage of 53.5%. He became the first of only two players to win both the MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year accolades in the same season during his lone season as Defensive Player of the Year.
Jordan returned to the lineup for the following three seasons after his first retirement. During his career, he won three more scoring titles, bringing his total to 10, second only to Wilt Chamberlain. He appeared in every game over those three seasons (246 consecutively).
Michael has six NBA championships to his name: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998. He has never lost in the NBA Finals and has won the NBA Finals MVP award every year he has competed.
Jordan’s Bulls had struggled in the postseason prior to the 1991 season. In 1987, the Bulls were swept by the Celtics in their third consecutive postseason appearance. When Michael Jordan originally began his basketball career, he won precisely one of his first ten playoff games.
Jordan set an NBA record with 72 victories for the Bulls during the 1995-96 season, owing to hard summer conditioning. During the NBA Finals, the Bulls beat the Seattle SuperSonics in six games. They won 16 of 19 postseason games, cementing their status as the best single-season squad in NBA history.
Jordan won his sixth NBA title as the Bulls won 69 games in 1997. Jordan’s game-winning buzzer-beating basket in Game 1 sealed the victory. The fifth game of the series was dubbed the “Flu Game.” Doctors diagnosed Jordan with food illness and barred him from participating, resulting in one of the most iconic performances in NBA history, as he played anyway, scoring 38 points, including the game-winning three with less than a minute remaining.
Scottie Pippen nodded his head in appreciation as Jordan sank into his arms after the game. Jordan won the NBA Finals MVP award for the sixth time.
Jordan won the NBA title for the final time in 1998. The Bulls and Pacers played seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan’s first seven-game series since 1992. The Bulls trailed by three points with 40 seconds left in the sixth game of the Finals after leading three games to two.
Jordan had just made a layup when he quickly grabbed the ball from Malone’s grasp. As he dribbles upcourt, fakes right, crosses over to the left, and launches an unbelievable jumper, it becomes his defining play in the NBA. After the shot went into the net, the Bulls won their sixth title in a decade.
The Argument For Wilt Chamberlain
Michael Jordan’s regular-season accomplishments, on the other hand, pale in comparison to Wilt Chamberlain’s statistical career accomplishments. Chamberlain established himself as an NBA star during his debut year in 1960. His compensation was $30,000, making him the league’s highest-paid player. He had 43 points and 28 rebounds as a rookie. With his debut, he created NBA history.
During that season, Chamberlain averaged 37.6 points per game, beating Bob Pettit’s record by nearly eight points. His 27 rebounds per game also set a new mark. He topped off his outstanding debut season by winning the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. In addition, he was selected as the All-Star Game MVP.
Wilt broke both marks again in 1961, scoring 38.4 points and 27.2 rebounds per game. Chamberlain became the first player in history to score 3,000 points and the first player in history to average 2,000 rebounds each season. He also established a single-game record for rebounds with 55, which still holds today. He dominated both offensive and defensive rebounds for his squad, scoring more than 30% of the points and collecting more than 30% of the rebounds.
Wilt responded with a 50.4-point average in 1962. That season, almost 4,000 points were scored. Only five other players that season scored 2,000 points. Michael Jordan scored 3,041 points in 1987, more than any other player before or after.
It was the first occasion in NBA history that a player averaged more than 48 minutes per game, the regular length for a non-overtime game. Wilt missed eight of a potential 3,890 minutes that season due to his expulsion during an overtime game. He scored 50 points or more in 45 games this season. Michael Jordan scored more than 50 points 37 times in his career.
On March 2, 1962, 4,012 people gathered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to witness the Eagles face the Colts in a pickup basketball game. Wilt Chamberlain set an NBA record with 100 points in the game. He scored 23 points in the first quarter and 41 before halftime against the New York Knicks‘ backup center.
By the conclusion of the third quarter, Wilt the Stilt had 69 points, and the audience was yelling for him to break his own NBA record of 78 points in a game. Wilt’s domination continued in the fourth quarter, despite five Knicks’ quintuple-defending. He finished the game with 31 points and 100 points. His 100 points were aided by his 25 rebounds.
His effort is regarded as the best single-game performance in professional sports history. He is commonly thought to be the first person to ever score 100 points in a game, a record that will never be beaten. With 81 points in 2006, Kobe Bryant has the closest scoring record to Wilt.
Wilt continued to perform well over the next three years. He topped the league in scoring for seven of his first seven seasons. Despite the fact that the other of his opponents were fighting for their lives, he won the race. In seven of his scoring titles, players who finished next to him averaged over eight points fewer than he did.
Wilt, also regarded as an ironman, performed admirably in the league. When he played every game in 1962, he had a record of 79 out of 82. He once played 47 straight games without missing a single second of the action. Over his career, he averaged about 46 minutes each game. Wilt averaged more than 43 minutes per game during his 36th NBA season, ranking third among all players. This was his ninth season as the league’s minutes leader. Wilt averaged over five minutes more per game than the next greatest NBA player over the course of his career.
Wilt was an exceptional rebounder, thanks to his scoring skills. With his incredible 50-inch vertical jump, he led the NBA in rebounding eleven times. He came up short twice against his closest challenger, Bill Russell. He has career records with 23,924 rebounds and 22.9 rebounds per game (22.9).
Six of the top seven all-time single-season rebounding totals are his. He has played 14 of the 24 40-rebound games in NBA history (Bill Russell records eight). In one game against Bill Russell, he collected 55 rebounds, a mark that will never be broken.
Wilt was even great in 1967. Despite playing defense, he was the league’s leading rebounder, averaging 23.8 rebounds per game and shooting 59.5 percent from the field. He became the league’s first and only center to lead the league in assists for an entire season (702).
In one game, he set a single-game record for the most assists by a center, with 21. At 24.3 points per game, he ranked fourth in the NBA. Furthermore, he guided the Sixers to a third consecutive season in which they led the league in victories (62).
Wilt would never again be the league’s highest scorer per game. The coach advised him not to do so, instead emphasizing the defensive parts of his game. He was able to take more selective shots, which might account for his higher field goal %. He shot about 65% from the field in his last year of basketball.
Wilt Chamberlain has set or shared a total of 72 NBA records. He excelled in every facet, whether it was statistics or areas of play.
He topped the NBA in total rebounding, total rebounding per game, field goal %, free throw attempts, playing time nine times, points scored, points per game, field goals made and field goals attempted seven times, games played five times, and assists once. Once upon a time, one of the league’s poorest free-throw shooters ranked #1.
In reality, for the following thirty years, Wilt had the top player efficiency rating in the league, which would not be developed until much later. A player efficiency rating, established by ESPN Insider’s John Hollinger, combines all of a player’s statistics into a single figure.
By accumulating positive statistics and eliminating negative ones, a statistical point system is applied. Following that, player ratings are adjusted to account for minutes played (so starters are compared with substitutes). Wilt topped the league in PEF eight times during his eight years in the league and was the only player to capture three of the top four single-season marks.
The main difference between Chamberlain and Jordan is his performance in game sevens. In postseason games, “The Big Dipper” suffered a lot. He did not reach the same heights as his arch-rival, Michael Jordan. Wilt lacked flare and was incapable of making critical plays.
That choice lost his reputation as a clutch performer. He did not appear to be as dominant in the postseason as he was during the regular season, despite the fact that he was still seen as an unstoppable force due to his stature.
Wilt won two NBA titles during his 14-year career. If just three Game 7s had not been played late in his career, he might have finished his NBA career with five championships.
Despite popular belief, Wilt did not completely collapse in the playoffs. He averaged more than 33 points and 23 rebounds in each of his first four postseason seasons. Despite having an unquestionable excellent season in 1962, he failed to win a title that season, a record that had some similarities with Babe Ruth’s in 1921, Tom Brady’s in 2007, and Wayne Gretzky’s in 1982.
Differentiators in the Postseason
Michael, unlike Wilt, was able to complete his mission. This has been shown time and again in the NBA Finals. As a result, Michael Jordan surpassed Wilt Chamberlain to become basketball’s all-time great.
It was Jordan’s eighth consecutive record-tying victory in the scoring race. His ten championships equaled the most in his career. His amazing defensive skills made him the most feared player in basketball, and he was considered both the best offensive player and the best defensive player for most of his career. He was unquestionably the finest player on both ends of the court for most of his career.
His accomplishments included being the first player to win both the scoring championship and the Defensive Player of the Year award in the same year. Between his first and last MVP award as a regular-season player, a record ten years passed.
Michael won a record-breaking third championship in a row in the three years preceding his retirement at the age of 32, the most titles he has won in his whole career. He returned to basketball after a year of baseball. His new squad swiftly became a champion after previously struggling in the postseason. He won three more championships over the next three seasons.
If Michael Jordan had not retired for a year and a half in the middle of those championships, the Bulls would have won eight in a row. As a member of the Bulls, he won six titles in a row. Jordan won the Most Valuable Player title six times during the pinnacle of his career.
Jordan dominated his opponents to the same extent that Wilt Chamberlain dominated Bill Russell. After being ousted by the Detroit Pistons in three consecutive postseasons, he finally vanquished his old enemy in 1991.
He won titles versus the Lakers, Rockets, Suns, SuperSonics, and Jazz, among others (twice). Throughout his career, he defeated several difficult opponents in the Finals, including Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone.
Michael Jordan may be the most clutch athlete ever. He upped his scoring average by more than 10% from the regular season to the postseason.
He has made some of the most memorable clutches plays in basketball history, including the walk-off shot he made against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989, his double-overtime 63 point effort against the NBA champion Boston Celtics in 1986, his 38 games of five points in the “Flu Game” of the 1997 NBA Finals versus the Utah Jazz, the game six-shot that won the series against the Utah Jazz in 1998… the list is endless.
Michael Jordan was a six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP, five-time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA All-Star, and three-time NBA All-Star Game MVP.
Wilt Chamberlain is a two-time NBA champion, one-time NBA Finals MVP, four-time NBA MVP, 13-time NBA All-Star, and one-time NBA All-Star Game MVP.
Wilt Chamberlain had the most rebounds with 23,924 compared to Michael Jordan’s 6,672. Wilt Chamberlain’s career RPG average was 22.9, whereas Jordan’s career RPG average was 6.2. Chamberlain has the greatest season RPG average (27.2), while Jordan has the lowest season RPG average (8.0).
Blocks were first recorded in the 1973-74 season, Chamberlain’s final season. According to press archives and game films, statistics on blocked shots can be available in 112 of Wilt’s 1305 NBA games.
When statistics were gathered, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 8.8 blocked shots per game in 112 games (The most official recorded BPG in a season is 5.56 BPG by Mark Eaton). Michael Jordan’s best BPG in a single season was a pitiful 1.5 BPG.
Wilt Chamberlain’s career was not as successful as Michael Jordan’s. Wilt Chamberlain, on the other side, was a better player statistically. Chamberlain performed better as a scorer, rebounder, shot blocker, and passer. Michael Jordan won championships, and Wilt Chamberlain amassed staggering stats.
If you believe that winning championships is what defines a great player, then Bill Russell and Michael Jordan are the greatest players in NBA history. If statistics are the most important factor in judging a player’s legacy, Wilt Chamberlain should be considered the greatest player of all time.
Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain each averaged 30.1 points per game during their careers. Wilt Chamberlain has the highest season PPG average of 50.4, while Michael Jordan has the highest season PPG average of 37.1.
Wilt Chamberlain had almost 1,000 more assists than Michael Jordan in his career. In contrast, Wilt Chamberlain previously led the league in APG and had the highest APG average of any center in NBA history. Chamberlain’s career APG average is 4.4, whereas Michael Jordan’s is 5.3. Michael has a season APG average of 8.0, while Chamberlain has an APG average of 8.6.
The Role of the Stars’ Teammates in Their Success
Would Scottie Pippen have joined the Bulls if he hadn’t been dealt to them on draft day? Would Michael Jordan be as well-known as he is today? Could Jordan have won as many NBA titles if he hadn’t had Pippen?
Among the numerous honors bestowed upon Scottie Pippen is the fact that he was instrumental in Jordan’s growth. Many consider his involvement in Jordan’s growth to be the most essential in NBA history. Throughout their careers, his presence spurred Jordan to win titles.
Jordan was neither willing nor able to do what Pippen did. As a result, Jordan was free to roam the channels intercepting passes while Pippen defended the other team’s top offensive player. Jordan and Pippen’s six titles may be attributed to their defensive brilliance. Pippen is regarded as the finest defensive wing player of all time, owing to his ability to score more points yet allowing Jordan to do so and being a terrific passer.
Pippen would not have won a championship without Jordan, but Jordan might not have won a championship without Pippen.
Although Chamberlain was a force on offense, his coach, who finally determined that his stature was more valuable for defense, saw him on the opposite side of the floor more often in his latter years. He had teammates like Billy Cunningham and Hal Greer to help the Sixers’ offense, but Chamberlain was frustrated when his teammates missed shots he believed he could have made. Despite the little upheaval, the decision resulted in Philadelphia winning the title in 1967.
What did Wilt Chamberlain say about Michael Jordan?
And I think my favorite quote from Chamberlain on why Jordan couldn’t be the NBA goat was this one. “The difference between you and me is that they had to change the rules for me so I couldn’t dominate. They changed the rules so that you could.” Chamberlain certainly has a case as it pertains to his own career.
Who is better Wilt or Shaq?
Wilt was definitely stronger than Shaq (although Shaq is a LOT heavier because he has a lot more fat than Wilt did). Shaq’s excess fat has a negative affect on his stamina. Wilt averaged 46 minutes per game over the course of his career, and in 1962, Wilt only sat out EIGHT MINUTES of the ENTIRE SEASON.
Who has better stats LeBron or Jordan?
LeBron James: Regular season stats. Jordan is superior in the scoring department, but James grabs rebounds and dishes out assists at a higher rate. While both players are known for tenacious defense on the wing, Jordan finished first in the league in steals three times in his career
- Read more: Michael Jordan vs LeBron James
How much was Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain?
Jordan scored 16,596 points in his first seven seasons for 32.6 points per game average. But if you divide those numbers you see who was really the better scorer. 21,486 points divided by 25,526 minutes for Wilt equals. 842 points per minute (remember he played 47 minutes a night)
In short, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan are two of the greatest basketball players of all time. They both have impressive individual accomplishments and have been extremely successful in their careers. While Chamberlain may have the edge in some statistical categories, Jordan is widely considered the better overall player and has more championships to his credit.