For the first time in a long, long time, this is not going to be about LeBron James. The reigning champion Cavaliers are now without their best player and it looks like they will have to rely on Kawhi Leonard again for help. That leaves us with an all-time great battle between two of the NBA’s greatest dynasties, one that could provide some compelling narratives all its own if both teams happen to make it out of their respective conference semi-finals.
The “2010 nba finals” is the last time the Celtics and Warriors met in the NBA Finals. The Celtics won the battle, but Bill Russell won the war.
During their playing days in the 1960s, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell had a fierce rivalry. When they met in the NBA Finals in 1964, their one-on-one fights in the paint grabbed center stage for the first time.
Chamberlain was in his sixth season as a member of the Warriors. After the organization relocated from Philadelphia, it was his second season in San Francisco. Russell was playing for the Boston Celtics for the ninth time. This was their first matchup with a title on the line. The personal matchup was statistically not close, and neither was the series.
Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain have always been associated.
As Bill Russell (6) watches on, Wilt Chamberlain (13) of the Warriors competes for a rebound with Tom Sanders (16) of the Celtics. At Boston Garden in 1964, action took place in the first quarter of the NBA championship game’s fifth game.
The Chamberlain/Russell rivalry, like that of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, was scrutinized. Before Bird vs. Magic in the early 1980s, there weren’t many individual rivalries in the NBA, but Chamberlain vs. Russell was the first huge one.
Inside the paint, 7-foot-1, 275-pound Chamberlain and 6-10, 215-pound Russell fought it out. Both of them scrubbed the boards clean. Russell earned his livelihood on the defensive side of the ball, while Chamberlain was a scoring machine.
In each of his first four NBA seasons, Chamberlain topped the league in scoring, rebounding, and minutes played. His stats were out of this world. He averaged 50.4 points and 27.5 rebounds in his third season with the Philadelphia Warriors. Chamberlain averaged a career-high 8.6 assists per game in 1967-68, in addition to his 24.3 points and 23.8 rebounds.
Russell was a rebounder and shot-blocker who was no slouch offensively. However, until the 1973-74 season, the NBA did not recognize blocked shots as an official stat. Chamberlain had retired the previous year, while Russell had played his last NBA game five years before. Referees who refereed Russell and Chamberlain’s games stated that Russell and Chamberlain averaged six to eight blocks every game, according to Bleacher Report.
Russell was the league’s best rebounder for the first three years of his career. Over the course of his 13-year career, he averaged 22.5 boards per game. During his career, he averaged 15.1 points per game, with a high of 18.9 in 1961-62.
Although Chamberlain won the individual skirmishes, Russell triumphed when it mattered most.
For the first time since 1964, the Boston Celtics will meet the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) May 30, 2022
Chamberlain and Russell’s careers were summed up in the 1964 NBA Finals. Chamberlain had the higher score. Russell was deserving of the ring.
During the 1963-64 season, there’s little doubt that the Celtics had a superior squad than the Warriors. Russell received a great deal of assistance. Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and John Havlicek, as well as Tom “Satch” Sanders and K.C. Jones, are all future Hall of Famers. Nate Thurmond, Al Attles, and Tom Meschery were all on Chamberlain’s team.
With a 59-21 record, Boston had the greatest regular season record. San Francisco won the Western Conference with a 48-32 record.
The championship series’ first two games were not even close. Neither were Chamberlain’s or Russell’s statistics. Russell scored nine points in each of the Celtics’ first two games, which were both routs. Boston won the first game 108-96 and the second game 124-101.
In the first game, Chamberlain had 22 points and 23 rebounds, and in the second game, he had 32 points and 25 rebounds. Russell had 25 boards in the first game and 24 in the second.
Game 3 was San Francisco’s lone victory in the series, with the 49ers rolling over the Celtics 115-91. Chamberlain scored 35 points and 25 rebounds, while Russell had 16 points and 32 rebounds.
The following two games were won by Boston, clinching the series. In a 98-95 victory, Russell scored eight points and 19 rebounds. Chamberlain had a double-double with 27 points and 38 rebounds. In the final game, Chamberlain scored 30 points and 27 rebounds, while Russell had 14 points and 26 rebounds.
Russell was unconcerned about Chamberlain hogging the limelight. In terms of championship rings, the Celtics center has 11 to Chamberlain’s 2.
Chamberlain’s Lakers were favorites in the 1969 NBA Finals when the two faced again. In seven games, the Celtics defeated the Lakers. Chamberlain was hurt in the game and did not return. Game 7 was won by Boston 108-106.
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