When discussing NBA legendary centers, the debate about Wilt vs. Kareem always rises to the top. Both players left an indelible spot in the sport as they were the most powerful forces during their time, so it is challenging to choose between them.
Kareem held the NBA’s all-time leading scorer record for the longest time until LeBron James broke it in 2023. Meanwhile, Wilt holds the most points made in a single game by scoring 100 points.
If you want to know who should take the greatest center of all time title, check out the rest of the article.
Wilt vs. Kareem: Brief Career Overview
Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are two of the most legendary centers the NBA has ever drafted. During their time, they showcased longevity and shooting prowess. Now, everyone is curious about the timeline of their career.
Before anything else, let us settle this question once and for all. Did Kareem and Wilt play together? Yes, their careers overlapped; they did not play together but against each other in 27 games.
Check out the rest of their career overview below to see who takes the top spot.
- Milwaukee Bucks (1969-1975)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar officially joined the NBA league in 1969 after being drafted as the first overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks. He immediately claimed dominance on the court in his rookie season when he led the Bucks to the NBA Finals.
By proving he is not a rookie that veterans should take lightly, he won the Rookie of the Year award after leading the Bucks to the Finals. Also, he led the league in scoring with 28.8 points per game.
His dominance continued in the following years. Shortly after his rookie award, he won his first MVP award in the 1970-71 season after leading the league in scoring for the second straight year with 31.7 points per game.
He led the team to their first NBA championship in franchise history during his time with the Bucks. It proves he was already built for something more splendid, even in the early years of his NBA career.
- Los Angeles Lakers (1975-1989)
Despite his monumental contributions to the Bucks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers through a phenomenal deal. Definitely, it was the best trade in history.
He led the Lakers to eight NBA championships as their centerpiece in offensive strategies. During his years with the Lakers, he won several accolades.
Kareem won his second MVP award in the 1979-1980 season and led the league in scoring once again with 24.8 points per game. Most of all, he carried the Lakers to their first championship in the same season.
The Lakers allowed him to prove his dominance as a center until the last years of his career. Despite falling short due to health reasons such as suffering from migraine, he was able to bag three more MVPs in the 1980s.
- Retirement (1989)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar left the league in 1989 as the all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, but LeBron James recently broke this record. He also averaged 24.6 points per game and was a six-time NBA champion.
- Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors (1959-1965)
Wilt Chamberlain joined the NBA in 1959 as a rookie player for the Philadelphia Warriors (now Golden State Warriors). Like other NBA legends, Wilt became one of the most dominant players in the league during his rookie years.
True to his dominance, he led the league in scoring and rebounding and later earned the Rookie of the Year Award. Aside from that, he won the All-Star game in his rookie year.
Wilt continued his successful streak with the Philadelphia Warriors. He even scored 100 points in a single match in 1962, earning him the most points recorded in a game. Before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, he won two MVPs.
- Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968)
Undeniably, Wilt Chamberlain enjoyed the peak of his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers. He won his third MVP award as a critical player for the 76ers. He also carried the team to a championship in 1967 as a shooting maniac.
His prime was evident on both ends of the court as the team’s leader in scoring and rebounding. Most of all, he earned All-NBA honors each year he played with the 76ers.
Despite his valuable contributions to the team, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1968. Little did he know, he would end his career there.
- Los Angeles Lakers (1968-1973)
His NBA stint with Los Angeles Lakers was a rollercoaster ride, as he experienced ups and downs in his career. He experienced a series of losses to the Knicks and Celtics.
Nonetheless, Wilt Chamberlain’s time with the Los Angeles Lakers was marked by continued success, as he won his fourth and final MVP award in 1972 and helped lead the team to an NBA championship in 1972.
- Retirement (1973)
The thing about Wil Chamberlain is that his performance was never a quitter. During his time with the Lakers, he continued his All-NBA honors streak by earning them in his five seasons with the team.
By leaving the league in 1973, he cemented himself as one of the most dominant and accomplished players. He ended his NBA years on a high note by averaging 30.1 points per game.
How Does Wilt Compare to Kareem?
Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are legends in their own lain, as both have edges and weak points. While Wilt takes the lead in the stats with a career stat of 30.1 average points per game, Kareem proved longevity by staying relevant for 20 seasons.
If you are curious about what makes them stand out, we made the Wilt vs. Kareem skills comparison below. Make sure to check them out and make a personal decision on who you think is the greatest center of all time in the NBA.
Wilt Chamberlain’s Accomplishments
Wilt Chamberlain established his name as the most dominant basketball player in history. His legendary stint was not just hearsay, as he set numerous records and accomplished remarkable feats.
Wilt Chamberlain holds the record for the most points scored in a single game by recording 100 points in 1962—no one has replicated this record. Aside from that, he won four regular season MVP awards, seven scoring titles, and two NBA championships.
Check out the sections below for a more detailed explanation.
Wilt Chamberlain won two NBA championships throughout his NBA stint. He first laid his hands on the NBA Championship trophy in the 1966-1967 season with the Philadelphia 76ers. In the same season, he was also named the Finals MVP.
The second he became an NBA champion was in the 1971-1972 season as a critical player for the Los Angeles Lakers. He teamed up with Gail Goodrich and Jerry West, and they became one of the most iconic trios in the NBA league.
NBA MVP Awards
Wilt Chamberlain ended his NBA career as a four-time NBA MVP awardee and one-time All-Star Game MVP. He won his first NBA MVP award while playing for the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1959-60 season. When he moved to the Philadelphia 76ers, he earned three more NBA MVPs in the 1965-66, 1966-67, and 1967-68 seasons.
Wilt made incredible statistical performances, such as averaging over 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in his MVP seasons. These were vital factors why he secured four MVP recognitions throughout his NBA career.
Wilt Chamberlain made it to the NBA All-Star game 13 times during his career. He was selected to the All-Star team every season from 1960 to 1969 and appeared in 1959, 1971, and 1972.
Chamberlain’s dominant play, including his scoring and rebounding abilities, made him a perennial All-Star and one of the greatest players in NBA history. It is essential to note that he made 13 all-star appearances in his 17 NBA seasons.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Accomplishments
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is indeed a legend and an icon of longevity. This is enough reason to call him one of the most important centers in the NBA since he could sustain his career demands by staying consistent and all-out.
Kareem’s career lasted for 20 years, and he retired as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, but LeBron James stole this record in 2023. He retired with six NBA championships and six MVP awards. He was also selected to 19 All-Star teams.
Kareem won six NBA championship titles in his 20-year NBA career. He had his first NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971 and had another one shortly after in 1974 with the same team.
When he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, he saw a significant glow in his NBA career and won four NBA championships in 1980, 1982, 1985, and 1987. The fact that he ended his career with 30.1 points, 16.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on average per game is no surprise.
NBA MVP Awards
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won six MVP awards throughout his career 20-year NBA stint. It means Kareem is the NBA player with the most MVP awards. Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James lag since they only have five in total.
He won his first MVP award in 1970-1971 while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. When he was traded to the Lakers, he won five more in 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1980.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made 19 all-star appearances in his 20-season NBA career. He is tied with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant as the players with the most all-star appearances in the history of the NBA.
He made it to the All-Star Game in all seasons from 1970 to 1987, except the 1978-1979 season. His all-star appearances vouch for his sustained relevance and consistent prowess in the NBA league.
Wilt’s Stats Compared to Kareem
Since both players are equally great in their ways and are worthy of the greatest center of all time title, we have made comprehensive Wilt vs. Kareem head-to-head stats comparison. Nonetheless, it would be unfair to base the criteria on these factors alone, so better check out the rest of the article.
Kareem takes the lead in terms of points, as he once held the all-time points leaderboard with 38,387 points until LeBron James broke the record in 2023. Meanwhile, Wilt is in the fourth spot with 31,419 points.
Nonetheless, Wilt is far better regarding their overall career stats record. Wilt averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game on average. Meanwhile, Kareem only averaged 24.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game on average.
Aside from that, Wilt recorded the highest point made in a single game in NBA history with 100 points. Plus, he is the top player in terms of rebounds. Wilt ended his career with 23,924 overall rebounds, while Kareem only had 17,440 rebounds.
Kareem’s Impact on the NBA
Kareem had a lasting impact on the NBA league due to his immense records and stats that most NBA players want to follow suit. His evident impact on the league is that he became a role model to most basketball players due to his powerful court command.
Kareem led the score leaderboard from retirement until LeBron James broke it in 2023. He made a legacy by ending his career with the “most points made in NBA history.” It proves he is an icon in the field, so NBA payers want to replicate his feats.
Greatness is in the building.
NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar looks on as LeBron James chases his record.
Lakers-Thunder, live on TNT! pic.twitter.com/awbzuRFwoX
— NBA (@NBA) February 8, 2023
Many players want to imitate the most unguardable shot of all time, the sky-hook, which Kareem was famous for. His impact is evident in the fact that he remained consistent for 20 years in the league. Most of all, his influence on the players is immeasurable.
Wilt’s Impact on the NBA
Wilt Chamberlain enjoyed lasting popularity during his time as a powerful shooter. He made a name and legacy when he recorded the most points made in a single game in history with 100 points.
NBA players aim to replicate his legacy by trying to break his record. Hence, he has encouraged players to master total defense, offense, and shooting skills. Hence, his impact on the NBA court lasted to this day.
While still active, he was known for his crucial roles on both ends of the court. Players and coaches are keeping him as a role model in shooting and defense. It is something that young players aspire to become nowadays.
Wilt vs. Kareem Debate
The Wilt vs. Kareem debate is a matter of subjective preference because both are worthy of the greatest center of all time title. There are a lot of factors to consider, which can be decided based on stats and personal choice.
First, a taller player is a better center. Now, who was taller, Wilt or Kareem? If then, Kareem will be your winner since he stood 7 feet and two inches, while Wilt stood 1 foot shorter.
How about Wilt vs. Kareem matchups on stats? Kareem has better career stats with 30.1 average points per game, while Wilt had 24.6 average points per game. Nonetheless, Wilt was the all-time leading scorer for decades until LeBron broke it recently in 2023.
Lastly, people are debating over the Wilt vs. Kareem Lakers’ time. Both became critical players for the team in different years, but they played against each other when Wilt transferred to the Lakers and Kareem played for the Bucks.
The reason is simple: both players have an edge and a weakness. Kareem’s Bucks won; he lost in 14 of the 27 times he faced Wilt. Hence, the debate can continue forever, and there will be no clear winner.
Wrapping Things Up: Wilt vs. Kareem: Who is the Greatest Center of All Time?
The debate on Wilt vs. Kareem has been going around for decades because these players are the top contenders for the greatest centers of all time ranking. There is no clear winner because they have strong points in different categories.
When we base it on the career stats, Wilt ended his career with the highest peak compared to Kareem. However, Kareem has more powerful drive and command on the court, especially since he was once the all-time leading scorer.
Hence, it is impossible to pit these two legends against each other. The bottom line is to accept that they are both worthy of being called the greatest centers of all time.
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