The NBA is one of the biggest sports leagues in the world right now. It took the league several decades to reach this level, and over that time, there have been many amazing players who have graced the NBA with their talents.
Evidently, there have been many great rivalries that fans have seen develop over the years. One of the biggest and greatest rivalries was between late NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell.
The two players played against each other for around a decade, and it gave fans many memorable moments. With Bill Russell recently passing away, fans are reminiscing about some of Russell's best memories on and off the league.
The two superstars had a great rivalry on the court, and despite that were close friends. But for around 20 years, they didn't talk to each other due to Russell's unkind comments towards Chamberlain.
Fortunately, the two reconciled and became friends again. After they became friends again, the two legends of the game appeared in a 1997 interview with Ahmad Rashad. During the interview, they talked about a lot of things.
One of them was when Rashad asked Wilt and Russell to name their top 5 NBA players of all time. Although the original question was for them to mention 5 players, both of them mentioned six players.
(Starts at 6:36)
Wilt: Let's see, Larry Bird and I gotta go with Jerry (West), Oscar (Roberston), and Elgin (Baylor) and probably (Michael) Jordan or Magic (Johnson). Six, you gotta give me six.
Bill: Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan), Larry (Bird), (Elgin) Baylor, Oscar (Roberston), and probably either (Hakeem) Olajuwon or (Bob) Petit.
Being two of the greatest players in NBA history, their opinion about this debate matters a lot. Apart from a couple of players, the list given by both was almost identical.
But there was surprisingly no mention of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by either of them, For Russell, it's no big deal but when it came to Chamberlain skipping Kareem's name it certainly felt personal to fans then.
Wilt and Kareem had a long beef, which was shocking since Wilt was KAJ's ideal from a very young age. The beef between the two began when Wilt became a vocal critic of Kareem after retiring from the league.
There is a long history of extreme actions taken by both players. However, when Wilt passed away in 1999, Kareem wrote a eulogy where he talked about Wilt's achievements in the league.
All things considered, despite the long beef, the two had at least some degree of respect for each other.
Due to Kareem and Wilt not seeing each other eye-to-eye was most probably the reason that he left out Abdul-Jabbar's name from his list of greatest NBA players of all time.
On that note, Russell and Chamberlain aren't the only NBA greats who have talked about their list of top 5 NBA players of all time. In fact, many NBA legends have shared their top 5 NBA players of all time.
Anyway, looking at the interviews like this is one of the reasons why NBA fans will continue to miss the likes of Bill and Wilt. They were truly great players and impacted the NBA on and off the court with their actions.