Ask the NBA's leading rebounders who they'd least like to face for a must rebound and they say the Knicks' Charles Oakley. "He has the size; he just has a big body," says the Trail Blazers' Buck Williams. "Sometimes, it's real difficult to get good position on him. And he's really strong."
Oakley, "only" 6 feet 9, is averaging 12.4 rebounds this season, above his career average of 10.8.
The Hawks' Kevin Willis is a 7-footer, but he, too, says Oakley is the player he'd least like to battle for a rebound. "He knows how to use his body well, and he's very strong. He puts a body on you, and if he gets his arm on you, it's hard to get around him."
And Oakley? The opponent he most dreads rebounding against is another small man, 6-foot-8 Dennis Rodman. "Dennis just doesn't stop," Oakley says. He's got technique. He gets inside position, and he's very quick to the ball."
The two most feared rebounders in the league today, and neither is a 7-footer. Both are significantly under that. But they play like they think every shot will miss, and every miss belongs to them.
"All good rebounders think every ball is theirs," Chamberlain says.
Chamberlain took down 23,924 rebounds, had a career average of 22.9 and led the league 11 times. For eight consecutive seasons beginning in 1959-60, Chamberlain and Bill Russell finished 1-2 or 2-1, with Russell winning the rebounding title twice. "The best rebounder I've ever seen is Bill Russell," Chamberlain says. "There's no doubt about it. When they needed a rebound for them, Bill Russell went and got it for them. He made all the difference in the world."
Russell is second in career rebounds (21,620), with the only career rebound average, 22.5, close to Wilt's.