Published January 14, 2023
The NBA Time Machine:
Ways of Wilt
Return to Philly
After his first Finals trip, Wilt Chamberlain‘s relationship with the San Francisco Warriors soured quickly. They failed to continue building around him to improve, and he did not get along with ownership. Couple these factors with ongoing health issues that put him in a bad place, and he eventually reached a point of frustration that prompted a trade request.
Chamberlain had become the first superstar to attempt forcing his way out of a city, and he unsurprisingly succeeded. He was traded during the All-Star Break to the Philadelphia 76ers, which placed him in a better organization that had recently relocated to his hometown.
The entire ordeal placed emphasis on how coveted Chamberlain truly was, but it also left a sour impression of him being stubborn – a rare trait for a franchise player.
Much like George Mikan in his first few years, Wilt Chamberlain was painfully dominant. The league saw his exceptional statistics as a talking point for changing the rules of the game once more, and therefore chose to widen the foul lane from twelve feet to sixteen.
Doing so forced Chamberlain further out of the paint, as the defensive three-seconds rule meant he could not roam in there for longer than that duration. The star center was completely unfazed, though – he may have scored a career low 34.7 points per game, but that was still good for first in the league.
The league aimed to involve itself more with others for the sake of exposure and growth – ABC began televising its Sunday “Game-Of-The-Week”, and a sponsorship deal with General Motors begun.
The second sixty-win season once again happened under the leadership of Bill Russell, who was awarded his fifth M.V.P. award. The seven-time champion also eclipsed five assists for the first time in his career, seemingly solidifying himself as the best passing big man of all-time.
The reigning M.V.P. had himself another legendary season, averaging career highs in assists and minutes. The Royals didn’t quite replicate their fifty-win season this time around, but they maintained their status as a top-tier team anyways.
At this point, the general consensus is that the West Virginian phenomenon was destined to be the leader of Los Angeles. He reached new peaks in scoring, efficiency, and usage, all the while bringing the Lakers atop the Western Division once more.
Chamberlain’s season was a bit odd – he became the first superstar to get traded mid-season (to the 76ers) due to conflicts with Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli. Both the Warriors and 76ers were on pace to be slightly better teams with Chamberlain, but not by much. Regardless, he led the league in scoring for the sixth straight time, despite efforts to hinder his effectiveness.
In his sophomore season, the coveted Royals star became the third player in NBA history to average twenty points and rebounds for the entire year. His efficiency dipped slightly due to a larger scoring responsibility, but remained a top-tier option in that regard.
While a late bloomer, Jones had become the All-NBA-caliber guard the Celtics envisioned when drafting him. He was a top-five ranked scorer with staggering efficiency for somebody dependent on jump shooting. This was the first example of his true offensive potential – he had sacrificed his role in previous years to manifest success, but ’65 Jones was the best version yet.
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An asterisk (*) indicates that the team qualified for the playoffs.