Unlike the 1950’s, the 1960’s sported some of the best players in the early decades of the NBA. I will highlight several NBA players who were either the best or most dominant during the 60’s. I have a feeling I will be splitting these awards amongst players. Let’s get started.
Time Frame: 1960-1966
To say that the African-American race put their imprint on the NBA in the 60’s would be an extreme understatement. Much like the league today, the NBA has seen African-Americans perform at the highest of levels and these guys paved the way for the players today.
Wilt Chamberlain is considered, by many, as the most dominant player to ever play the game that Dr. James Naismith invented. He stood 7’1 and weighed nearly 280 lbs, with good hand-eye coordination. Everyone knows about the career numbers Chamberlain put up throughout his career. He scored 31,419 career points and had 23,924 rebounds (first on the all-time rebounding list). If the NBA had kept track of blocked shots back then, Chamberlain would probably be number one on that list too. He is only the player to ever score 100 points in NBA game; and in 1962, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds a game. I don’t care if you are playing against a bunch of guys who are 6’5, when you average 50 and 25; you are in a different class. Chamberlain was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959 after spending several years with the Harlem Globetrotters. The interesting thing about Chamberlain being drafted is this: Chamberlain grew up in Philadelphia, but played his college ball at Kansas University. Back then, the NBA drafted “territorially, meaning that a team would draft a player who played at a college near the NBA city. From what I read, Philadelphia’s territorial range didn’t spread to Kansas, but one of the NBA’s “founding fathers”, Eddie Gottlieb, argued that because Chamberlain grew up in Philadelphia and should be allowed to play for the Warriors. Did I mention that Gottlieb was the owner of the Philadelphia Warriors? Nonetheless, Chamberlain spent five seasons with the Warriors, including two seasons after the team was moved to San Francisco. During the 1964-1965 season, Chamberlain was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he spent his next four years. He ended his career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers for five seasons.
Chamberlain won four MVP trophies throughout his career. But despite his dominance, Chamberlain was only able to capture one NBA championship, coming in 1966-1967 with the Sixers.
Time Frame (1960-1968)
Around the same time that Chamberlain came into the league, another great player was introduced to the NBA, and his name was Oscar Robertson. Mr. Triple-Double was one of the greatest stat machines to ever play the game. In his second year in the NBA (1961-1962), Robertson posted 30.8, 12.5 and 11.4 (points, rebounds and assists) per game. He is the only player in the history of the NBA to average a triple-double for an entire season. He also played 79 games that season. Robertson led the NBA in assists per game seven times and total assists six times, and led the league in scoring (29.2) once. He was the #1 overall pick in the 1960 NBA draft and was selected by the Cincinnati Royals. He played a total of 14 seasons in the NBA, with two different teams (Royals and Milwaukee Bucks). He ranks 10th in career points (26,710) and 6th in career assists (9,887). Through the years of 1960-1966, Robertson scored 13998 points, grabbed 4,579 rebounds and dished-out 4,923 assists. He was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1961 through 1966 (and until 1969), was Rookie of the Year, NBA MVP, and a two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP. And that was all before the age of 28.
He won his only NBA championship in 1971 with the Bucks. Robertson is considered to be one of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen, and rightfully so. His finished in the top five for MVP voting eight straight seasons (1960-1968) and has a career Player Efficiency Rating of 23.2, ranking him 20th all-time. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1980.