Sports history in Black: Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell go toe-to-toe for the first time

By Mike Patton

NABJ Black News & Views

Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were giants in their time, literally and figuratively.

Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell in 1969. Photo credit: Public domain
Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell in 1969. Photo credit: Public domain

Both are NBA Hall of Famers who left their respective imprints on basketball. Russell left his mark with the success he had on the court, winning 11 titles, including two as a player-coach. Wilt Chamberlain, on the other hand, became known for being quite possibly the greatest large man of all-time. He could do anything he wanted to on the court, from passing, scoring, rebounding and blocking shots.

Chamberlain and Russell had plenty of big battles during their years in the NBA, but the first time these two matched up against one other took place on Nov. 7, 1959, when Chamberlain was a rookie for the Philadelphia Warriors and Russell was an established star center for the Boston Celtics. The pair would go on to play against each other 143 times total in the regular and postseason.

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