Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell?

Moderators: Quotatious, Clyde Frazier, trex_8063, Doctor MJ, penbeast0, PaulieWal

Who dominated more?

Wilt due to stats and 2 rings
11
42%
Russell due to 11 rings/5mvps
15
58%
 
Total votes: 26

Cavsfansince84
Head Coach
Posts: 6,736
And1: 5,212
Joined: Jun 13, 2017
   

Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#1 » by Cavsfansince84 » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:40 pm

I think it is an interesting question because it plays into how we define dominant as fans. Which player in your mind was more dominant during that era?(56-73)
Doctor MJ
Senior Mod
Senior Mod
Posts: 42,188
And1: 10,692
Joined: Mar 10, 2005
Location: Cali
   

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#2 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:44 pm

Russell. It's a fluid team game. Russell's understanding of this was further ahead of his time than probably anyone else in history will ever be, and that's why his team kept winning, which to me is what dominance should be tied to.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.
Cavsfansince84
Head Coach
Posts: 6,736
And1: 5,212
Joined: Jun 13, 2017
   

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#3 » by Cavsfansince84 » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:48 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:Russell. It's a fluid team game. Russell's understanding of this was further ahead of his time than probably anyone else in history will ever be, and that's why his team kept winning, which to me is what dominance should be tied to.


That's more or less how I see it. Which isn't entirely Wilt's fault because I think he was sort of goaded into being a big time stats guy but Russell's impact went so far beyond stats(though it would be great to also have block and steals numbers for him).
Doctor MJ
Senior Mod
Senior Mod
Posts: 42,188
And1: 10,692
Joined: Mar 10, 2005
Location: Cali
   

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#4 » by Doctor MJ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:18 pm

Cavsfansince84 wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:Russell. It's a fluid team game. Russell's understanding of this was further ahead of his time than probably anyone else in history will ever be, and that's why his team kept winning, which to me is what dominance should be tied to.


That's more or less how I see it. Which isn't entirely Wilt's fault because I think he was sort of goaded into being a big time stats guy but Russell's impact went so far beyond stats(though it would be great to also have block and steals numbers for him).


Yup, Wilt could have been taught a more balanced mindset, and likely would have had had he come around at a later date, but basketball is a game of in-the-moment decision making based on what you think is the best move, and players who are really, really good at that have always been, and always will be the gold standard. And Russell is the walking avatar for this type of player even more than the guy we know now as the Logo.
Hey: With what's going on in the world, my fuse is shorter than it used to be, and it's leading my lose my cool and then go on self-imposed breaks from things (such as RealGM). Please try to keep it civil, and I'll be looking to do the same.
HeartBreakKid
RealGM
Posts: 17,223
And1: 12,863
Joined: Mar 08, 2012
     

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#5 » by HeartBreakKid » Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:13 pm

Dominance is pretty much just a buzzword people want to use for physically opposing players who win but maybe don't win in a way that people idolize (Shaq being the key figure here, as many people have no problems saying he's the most dominant but hate the idea of him being the best).

If we treat dominance for what the word really means, basically who is better or who helps your team win - since that is the point of basketball, then I would have to say Bill Russell was a more dominant player.
70sFan
RealGM
Posts: 13,342
And1: 9,245
Joined: Aug 11, 2015
 

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#6 » by 70sFan » Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:22 am

Unless you think about physical dominance, it's Russell. Russell is the most dominant player ever, more than Jordan or James, Wilt or Shaq.
Dutchball97
Bench Warmer
Posts: 1,251
And1: 1,149
Joined: Mar 28, 2020
 

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#7 » by Dutchball97 » Thu Sep 17, 2020 7:51 am

Wilt was inconsistent as hell. Basically coinflipping whether he wanted to be actually good or just pad his stats any given year. Meanwhile Russell won 11 rings in 13 years, while being the best player for all those rings (57, 68 and 69 are debatable but he'd be a close second at least).

There is a reason we don't view Alex English ahead of Magic Johnson or AI ahead of Duncan. Scoring and raw stats don't tell the whole story.
70sFan
RealGM
Posts: 13,342
And1: 9,245
Joined: Aug 11, 2015
 

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#8 » by 70sFan » Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:06 am

Dutchball97 wrote:Wilt was inconsistent as hell. Basically coinflipping whether he wanted to be actually good or just pad his stats any given year. Meanwhile Russell won 11 rings in 13 years, while being the best player for all those rings (57, 68 and 69 are debatable but he'd be a close second at least).

There is a reason we don't view Alex English ahead of Magic Johnson or AI ahead of Duncan. Scoring and raw stats don't tell the whole story.

Wilt was always very impactful player, the only year when his impact was questionable was 1962/63 and Warriors franchise was a mess then. He wasn't usually as impactful as Russell, but it doesn't mean that he wasn't on top 10 ever level.

Wilt vs Russell comparison is legit, Magic vs English or Iverson vs Duncan are not. I hope that you don't think there are similar gaps between them. Wilt had his share of seasons when he was just as good (if not better) as Russell.
Dutchball97
Bench Warmer
Posts: 1,251
And1: 1,149
Joined: Mar 28, 2020
 

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#9 » by Dutchball97 » Thu Sep 17, 2020 8:16 am

70sFan wrote:
Dutchball97 wrote:Wilt was inconsistent as hell. Basically coinflipping whether he wanted to be actually good or just pad his stats any given year. Meanwhile Russell won 11 rings in 13 years, while being the best player for all those rings (57, 68 and 69 are debatable but he'd be a close second at least).

There is a reason we don't view Alex English ahead of Magic Johnson or AI ahead of Duncan. Scoring and raw stats don't tell the whole story.

Wilt was always very impactful player, the only year when his impact was questionable was 1962/63 and Warriors franchise was a mess then. He wasn't usually as impactful as Russell, but it doesn't mean that he wasn't on top 10 ever level.

Wilt vs Russell comparison is legit, Magic vs English or Iverson vs Duncan are not. I hope that you don't think there are similar gaps between them. Wilt had his share of seasons when he was just as good (if not better) as Russell.


I'm not saying English and AI are on the same level as Wilt. It's just a hyperbolic example of scoring more points not always being the most impactful thing. I've seen too many people take Wilt over Russell because he scored a lot, while in my opinion Russell is the clearly better player.
70sFan
RealGM
Posts: 13,342
And1: 9,245
Joined: Aug 11, 2015
 

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#10 » by 70sFan » Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:20 am

I agree, people overrate volume scorers usually. That's why Russell is criminally underrated overall (he's the best player ever to me, just lacks longevity to be ranked the first on my list).

That said, Wilt was so much more than just volume scorer that even mentioning someone like Iverson next to him is an insult. Wilt himself was one of the best defenders ever, arguably the best rebounder ever and one of the best passers at his position.
frica
Junior
Posts: 428
And1: 153
Joined: May 03, 2018

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#11 » by frica » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:12 pm

Wilt comes across as a stiff* to me.

He wasn't a dumb player, he just didn't have a feel for the game.
Slow it down and he gets it, but in moments that require something spontaneous he was just (mentally) slow/mechanical/stiff.

*In boxing Tyson Fury (Bill) vs Wladimir (Wilt) is a good example.
One (Fury) can adjust on the spur of the moment. The other (Wlad) can execute a gameplan but is lost if it isn't working.
frica
Junior
Posts: 428
And1: 153
Joined: May 03, 2018

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#12 » by frica » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:14 pm

70sFan wrote:I agree, people overrate volume scorers usually. That's why Russell is criminally underrated overall (he's the best player ever to me, just lacks longevity to be ranked the first on my list).

That said, Wilt was so much more than just volume scorer that even mentioning someone like Iverson next to him is an insult. Wilt himself was one of the best defenders ever, arguably the best rebounder ever and one of the best passers at his position.


Grew into a good passer*
And even when he became a good passer he wasn't entirely consistent on a year-by-year basis.

I think in his peak passing year he might have been better than Russell at passing, but Bill was near that level for most of his career while Wilt's earlier years were far removed from that peak.
penbeast0
Senior Mod - NBA Player Comparisons
Senior Mod - NBA Player Comparisons
Posts: 22,181
And1: 4,466
Joined: Aug 14, 2004
Location: South Florida
   

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#13 » by penbeast0 » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:57 pm

If this question was "Who was the better player," I would take Russell easily, and I'm a big Wilt fan. But if the word dominance has a meaning of it's own, it would be a question of:

"Who played a bigger role in his teams' offensive and defensive game plans?" That might be Wilt. He was a good rim protector and post defender, the second or third best of his era. His teams focused their game plans on both sides around his game with the Warriors, and to a lesser extent with the Sixers, before he became more of a one sided player in LA. Russell's passing tends to be overrated; he didn't come into the league as a good passer and his later career passing didn't create good shots all that much for his teammates as the Celtics continued to be a woeful offensive player throughout his career. On the other hand, his defense was the Celtics identity for pretty much his whole career and his impact on that end is extremely difficult to overstate. And his rebound rate is slightly higher than Wilt's though Wilt played more minutes so his per game totals look bigger. It's a much tougher call than who was better if that isn't what the OP meant.
Bradley Beal@RealDealBeal23
Because we can hoop!
Owly
Analyst
Posts: 3,018
And1: 1,512
Joined: Mar 12, 2010

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#14 » by Owly » Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:15 pm

penbeast0 wrote:If this question was "Who was the better player," I would take Russell easily, and I'm a big Wilt fan. But if the word dominance has a meaning of it's own, it would be a question of:

"Who played a bigger role in his teams' offensive and defensive game plans?" That might be Wilt. He was a good rim protector and post defender, the second or third best of his era. His teams focused their game plans on both sides around his game with the Warriors, and to a lesser extent with the Sixers, before he became more of a one sided player in LA. Russell's passing tends to be overrated; he didn't come into the league as a good passer and his later career passing didn't create good shots all that much for his teammates as the Celtics continued to be a woeful offensive player throughout his career. On the other hand, his defense was the Celtics identity for pretty much his whole career and his impact on that end is extremely difficult to overstate. And his rebound rate is slightly higher than Wilt's though Wilt played more minutes so his per game totals look bigger. It's a much tougher call than who was better if that isn't what the OP meant.

On rebounds/rate they're neck-and-neck in their shared years in the league (regular season) Russell 18.9, Chamberlain 18.7 (Russell's advantage is padded in the miss heavy 50s vs Chamberlain in the 70s). Add in that the Celtics play at the fastest pace in 60, 61, 63, 64, 65 (2nd in 62), this just of those shared years. My guess too would be that Russell's teams would tend to see a higher percentage of misses probably at both ends (but certainly and especially on D where most boards are grabbed - obviously Russell is doing some/much of that forcing misses and if you're directly contesting rebounding is harder). In terms of accumulating rebounds (and this is not necessarily the same as impacting team rebounding) my off top of head inclination is that Chamberlain may have been better.

Sorry for the tangent.
User avatar
Eddy_JukeZ
RealGM
Posts: 16,083
And1: 12,447
Joined: Oct 05, 2013
         

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#15 » by Eddy_JukeZ » Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:46 pm

How are you defining dominance?

The ability to take over a game offensively? The ability to impact wins?

Russell for the latter. Wilt for the former.
User avatar
LA Bird
Starter
Posts: 2,444
And1: 1,748
Joined: Feb 16, 2015

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#16 » by LA Bird » Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:31 pm

A more dominant player is just a better player unless you buy into Shaq's propaganda of dominance = physical dominance. Wilt at his absolute best was more dominant but Russell was the more consistently dominant player of that era. Overall, I would say the two are close with the advantage going to Russell because he is the easier player to build around. I don't like how Russell vs Wilt debate always become a ring measuring contest though. If Ray Allen had missed a 3, the ring count of Duncan and LeBron would be 6 vs 2. Is Duncan then the better player because he is a winner while LeBron is just a modern day Wilt who doesn't understand how to win? It's easy to look back now and say Russell must be better because he won more but several of those wins were very close.

1962: Celtics beat the Warriors in G7 by 2 points with a Sam Jones game winner.
1965: Celtics beat the 76ers in G7 by 1 point with Hondo famously stealing the ball back after Russell turned it over in the final seconds. Sam Jones was the leading scorer with 37 points.
1969: Celtics beat the Lakers in G7 by 2 points. Controversial out of bounds call on Baylor at the end of G4 gave Boston the possession for a Sam Jones game winner - Celtics even the series instead of going to LA down 3-1.

The ring count between Russell vs Wilt could very well have been 8 vs 5 instead of 11 vs 2 with some unlucky bounces. If that had happened, would anybody still see 'winning' as an overwhelming advantage for Russell when the ring difference would only be 3?
Cavsfansince84
Head Coach
Posts: 6,736
And1: 5,212
Joined: Jun 13, 2017
   

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#17 » by Cavsfansince84 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 12:29 am

Eddy_JukeZ wrote:How are you defining dominance?

The ability to take over a game offensively? The ability to impact wins?

Russell for the latter. Wilt for the former.


Its up to you to decide which player better defines the word. That's the whole point of this thread.
NormanDale
Rookie
Posts: 1,186
And1: 610
Joined: Mar 30, 2005

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#18 » by NormanDale » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:54 am

The 1955-56 Celtics were bottom-half of the league in Defensive Rating and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Then they drafted Bill Russell.

From 57-69, the Celtics were 1st in Defensive Rating 12 times and 2nd once (1968), and won 11 titles in 13 years on the back of that defense.

Then Russell retired. The Celtics were once again in the bottom half of the league in Defensive Rating in 1970, and did not make the playoffs.


My pick is Russell.
Hear you tell it, man I'm fallin/Well somebody must have caught him/Cause every fourth quarter/I like to Mike Jordan 'em.

"I think you'll find that these are the exact same dimensions as our gym back at Hickory."
countryboy667
Senior
Posts: 543
And1: 225
Joined: Jun 07, 2015
       

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#19 » by countryboy667 » Fri Sep 18, 2020 2:54 pm

As the question is worded, clearly Wilt. For the most part, Russell was the player with the better TEAM. That does NOT equate to individual dominance. While he would not put down his own accomplishments, if Russell were honest, I think he would admit Wilt was the more dominant INDIVIDUAL. While a great, great defender, Russell never had the great all-around game that Wilt has, and Wilt was also probably the better overall athlete of the two.
User avatar
feyki
Bench Warmer
Posts: 1,310
And1: 190
Joined: Aug 08, 2016
     

Re: Who was more dominant between Wilt and Russell? 

Post#20 » by feyki » Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:01 pm

Wilt was the most dominant thing ever nba courts have seen. But when it comes to impact, Russell was a bit better till 66 Wilt. While Wilt was playing his basketball in b2b 67 and 68, Wilt was much better player, Russell was also in a decline, too.
Image
“The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.”

Return to Player Comparisons