Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain is the best rival | Opinion

Wilt and Bill were buddies off the court and rivals on the court for the most of their professional lives. Russell said those things, not me. They fell out in the latter stages of Wilt’s career and following Russell’s retirement. Wilts left the 1969 championship game in the closing moments of the fourth quarter because of a knee ailment, which Russell condemned. They didn’t talk for a while after Wilt took tremendous offense. Russell was acting inappropriately at the time because Wilt pleaded to return to the court, but his coach told him no—we could function just fine without him. After being apart for 24 years, the two got back together while Shaquille O’Neil was filming a commercial. They stayed close friends.

During their playing careers, Wilt and Bill Russell were genuinely good friends and highly respected one another. When Russell would play Wilt in Philadelphia, he would frequently stay with Wilt’s family rather than a hotel. After Wilt’s injuries during the 1969 NBA Finals caused Russell to make some hurtful remarks, the relationship took a dramatic turn for the worst. Wilt’s ego was undoubtedly severely damaged by this, especially considering that Russell—a player coach at the time and a member of the less skilled team—bested Wilt’s Lakers in the same game and won the title.

 

 

I don’t know the precise date, but I think Russell made amends to Wilt somewhere in the 1990s, and after that the two reestablished their friendship until Wilt’s passing in 1999. While Russell has claimed that Wilt was the hardest opponent he has ever faced, Wilt has claimed in a few occasions that Russell is the best NBA player of all time. There was a great deal of respect between the two athletes.

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