Today in Philly Sports History: Wilt Grabs 55, 1960

Today in Philly Sports History: Wilt Grabs 55, 1960
January 24, 2009, 4:00 am
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Russell owned Wilt: It's an accepted fact. ESPN did a "Top Five Reasons You Can't Blame" about it, Bill Simmons devoted a whole chapter to it in his recent Book of Basketball. And it's true that when certain numbers are analyzed, it does seem that Bill Russell had the perpetual upper hand on the Big Dipper. But some stats are similarly incriminating to Russell--namely, that Wilt pulled down 55 boards against him in a game between the Celtics and Philadelphia Warriors on November 24th, 1960.

Interestingly (and perhaps not coincidentally), it was Russell's record that Chamberlain broke for the all-time single-game record, Bill having grabbed 51 in a game earlier that same season. To say that the record still stands today would be a severe understatement--only two guys not named Russell or Wilt ever even got 40 (Nate Thurmond got 42 in '65, Jerry Lucas got 40 in '64), and these days, even a 20-rebound game is pretty remarkable. Obviously, the game was being played at a different pace back then, and with certain players having a much bigger size advantage, but 55 rebounds in one game is still pretty impressive no matter what the context--especially doing so against his greatest rival, and the man generally considered the greatest center of all-time.

All that said, the stats most often trotted out to prove Russell's advantage over Chamberlain is wins--proving that while Wilt went for numbers, Bill just wanted to what was necessary to bring home the W. This game was no different, with the Celtics edging out the Warriors 132-129. Sorry, Wilt--when you don't win, you just can't win.

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