Warriors History: Center of Attention
After looking at Rick Barry’s career last week, the idea came to mind to do the same for players that we could consider to be the best in Warriors history. And let’s be honest, if we go all the way back to the days when the team played in Philadelphia, San Francisco and obviously Golden State, we will find that numerous great players have at least once worn a Warriors jersey.
Hence, trying to come up with a Warriors all-time team could prove to be an interesting feat as well as barbershop talk. Mind you, I felt it was necessary to at least have a few requirements when selecting the players in order to fully capture their contributions to the franchise:
- At least five years spent with the Warriors team
- Memorable accomplishment or moment
- We are strictly looking at what these players accomplished with the Warriors
Now that we have figured out our requirements, who would be the starting center on the all-time Dubs team?
Nate Thurmond is a great candidate for this spot given his high level of consistent play as well as his longevity with the team. Have a look at his career numbers as a Warriors player:
- 757 games played (2nd most in franchise history)
- 30,735 minutes played (most in franchise history)
- 5,029 field goals made (6th in franchise history)
- 11,836 field goals attempts (5th in franchise history)
- 3,113 free throws made (6th in franchise history)
- 4,636 free throw attempts (3rd in franchise history)
- 12,771 total rebounds (most in franchise history)
- 2,070 assists (9th in franchise history)
- 13,191 points (5th in franchise history)
- 40.7 minutes per game (2nd in franchise history)
- 16.9 rebounds per game (2nd in franchise history)
Impressive right? Well just in case that does not cut it for you, Nate Thurmond was the first ever NBA player to record a quadruple double in a game. Yes, quadruple double (although he was a Chicago Bull when he accomplished it). And yet, Thurmond does not make our Warriors all-time starting five. If anything, he would probably make the second team. Preposterous right?
Well, there is another player that played center for the Warriors from 1959 to 1965 that seems to own just about ever NBA record known to man on and off the court (you can probably guess which off the court record he owns). His name? Wilt Chamberlain.
Several have argued that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal were the most destructive big men in the history of the league. But to mention them without at least whispering the name of the Big Dipper would just be an outright travesty.
Have a look at Wilt Chamberlain’s production as a member of the Warriors franchise:
- 20,231 minutes played (7th in franchise history)
- 7,216 field goals made (most in franchise history)
- 14,270 field goals attempted (2nd in franchise history)
- 3,351 free throws made (4th in franchise history)
- 6,037 free throws attempted (2nd in franchise history)
- 10,768 total rebounds (2nd in franchise history)
- 17,783 total points (most in franchise history)
- 47.2 minutes per game (best in franchise history)
- 41.5 points per game (best in franchise history)
- 25.1 rebounds per game (best in franchise history)
Also, Chamberlain captured the MVP trophy in his rookie season in the NBA as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors, after averaging 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds per game in 72 contests.
Wilt the Stilt was an incredibly gifted player that combined speed and athleticism with strength and agility. The end result was that the league had no answer for the giant, especially by the time the 1961-62 season rolled around. Let’s have a quick look at his averages in a Dubs uniform:
In addition, save for the 1964-65 season when he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers after 38 games (by that time the Warriors franchise had moved to San Francisco), Wilt Chamberlain appeared in at least 72 games each season during his stay with the team.
Although the team never won a title with Chamberlain as the starting center, he still led the squad to a Finals berth in 1964 against the Boston Celtics on the strength of his 34.7 points, 25.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game on 54.3 percent field goal shooting during the playoffs.
The NBA has seen several behemoths in its rich history, but very few have dominated the game of basketball on both ends of the floor like the Big Dipper. If we were to even attempt to try and compare eras, Wilt’s play in his first six seasons with the Warriors would compare to the rampage that Shaquille O’Neal brought on the league during the 1999-2000 season on his way to his first NBA title (Shaq boasted a PER of 30.6 that season while Chamberlain’s five and a half seasons with the Dubs netted him a PER of 30.2 – just imagine if they tracked blocks back then).
In his book King of the Court, Aram Goudsouzian described how Bill Russell (also known as the greatest defensive player in NBA history) tried to defend Wilt: “One, he tried denying Chamberlain the ball. Two, he tried staying between him and the basket. Three is when everything else fails, he said. I panic.”
If Russell himself could not come up with any sound successful strategy against the former Kansas Jayhawk, what chance did the rest of the league have?
In the end, Wilt Chamberlain is one of the most decorated players in NBA history and also one of the five best players the league has ever seen; but let’s not forget where it all started: with the Warriors.
Wilt is by far the best pivot man this team has ever seen and thus easily gets the nod as the starting center for the Warriors all-time team.
Here we are 46 years later since Wilt played his last game in a Dubs jersey, and yet he is still in many ways the center of attention…
Just like during his playing days.